Graham Arnold became the first Australian-born coach to lead the Socceroos to a win at the World Cup when his team beat Tunisia 1-0 in Qatar on Saturday night.
Despite the national side competing at six World Cups since 1974, winning a total of two matches, all other coaches who steered the team to the previous tournaments were born overseas.
Bosnia-born Rale Rasic was the boss at the 1974 World Cup, in 2006 Dutchman Guus Hiddink was in charge, followed by countrymen Pim Verbeek in (2010) and Bert van Marwijk (2018).
Graham Arnold is the first Australian-born coach to steer the Socceroos to a win at the World Cup – despite the nation competing at six of the tournaments since 1974
The Socceroos 1-0 victory also meant they kept their opponents scoreless in a World Cup for the first time since their first crack at the tournament in 1974.
Arnold was understandably emotional after the win.
‘I’m just hugely proud of the boys, they showed that great fighting Aussie spirit tonight,’ he said.
‘I expect we made the nation very proud.
‘The other night we played against the world champions and the boys had the same effort level.
‘When the doubters hate us, bring it on.’
‘Arnie’ was understandably emotional after the win, which kept the team’s hopes of reaching the tournament’s knockout stages alive
Mitchell Duke’s stellar header in Saturday’s clash at Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar raises Australian hopes of advancing to the knockout phase for only the second time.
The Socceroos, after losing 4-1 to France in their cup opener, bank three precious points after Duke’s 23rd-minute goal against the Tunisians.
Another positive result against Denmark and the Australians could follow the feat of the fabled 2006 golden generation in progressing out of the group stage.
The win over Tunisia was Australia’s first in a dozen years, since downing Serbia in 2010. The Socceroos also saluted against Japan in 2006.
Bring it in: The Socceroos gather on the pitch after their 1-0 victory in a must-win game
And the oft-maligned Duke became just the eighth Socceroo to score at the World Cup.
His goal came from a sizzling move, with Australia pinging the ball from goalkeeper Mat Ryan into the net in just 15 seconds.
Ryan short-passed to the influential Harry Souttar, whose laser-like delivery triggered the attack.
From inside his own box, Souttar found Duke just inside the halfway line and, with a canny side-heel, the forward played in Riley McGree.
Goalscoring hero Mitch Duke makes a ‘J’ with his hands as a heartwarming message to his son Jakob after his amazing header put the Socceroos up 1-0
McGree fed Craig Goodwin, charging along the left flank, and the Adelaide United man whacked a low ball which deflected off Tunisian defender Mohamed Drager and skimmed towards Duke.
The Socceroos striker belied the degree of difficulty to angle a glancing header into the net.
Tunisia, who had not conceded a goal to anyone bar Brazil in their previous 10 matches, twice gave Australia anxious moments before halftime.
A sliding Souttar blocked a Drager attempt in the 41st minute and, in added time, Tunisia’s captain Youssef Msakni shot just wide from close-range.
Harry Souttar (right) was imperious for the Socceroos against Tunisia on Saturday
The Tunisians ramped up the pressure in the second half – though the Socceroos almost sealed the deal in the 71st minute when Mathew Leckie, sliding towards a near-empty net, narrowly failed to connect with a low Jamie Maclaren cross.
In the next minute, Socceroos captain and goalkeeper Mat Ryan was forced to make his first save – with his next coming just seconds later.
But the Tunisians failed to break the Australian defence and remain on one point from their draw against Denmark in their cup opener.
The Danes (one point) meet France (three points) at 3am AEDT on Sunday.