Bravo Australia. Bravo.

All though we didn’t secure a place in the second round, our footballers did their nation proud this morning.

The Socceroos’ victory over Serbia 2-1 (Australia’s first ever victory over a European team in the World Cup finals) was all that all could be asked from Pim Verbeek’s men. In terms of progression to the round of 16, it was a case of close but not close enough. A pessimist among us may even say too little too late. But as far as I am concerned, our achievements should be celebrated.

The 4-0 loss to Germany in the first game was about as calamitous as you can get. No autopsy of our campaign can exclude that embarrassment. However, as opposed to the French and to a lesser extent the English, the Australian camp refused to bicker and in-fight. No handbags at dawn for the men in green and gold. No apparent bitchiness. If there was any internal concern over the direction of Verbeek (and on the basis of his pre-Ghana tactics it would be warranted) it was kept in house. As it should be.

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Australian sport has a long and proud history of rolling up the sleeves and fighting. It’s part of our national sporting fabric to not lie down and give up.

And, make no mistake, our Socceroos have that in spades.

Tim Cahill was brilliant today. He showed why his absence against Ghana was sorely missed. His goal against the Serbs was world class. As indeed is he. Brett Holman’s strike to put us 2-0 ahead was an individual piece of brilliance. We can base our next World Cup campaign attack around him. Luke Wilkshire tried his guts out, at the cost of a groin injury, to get us the win we needed. Lucas Neill was resolute. Mark Schwarzer was defiant — albeit performing a goal line blunder that gifted Serbia their only goal.

It’s hard to begrudge any performance of the Australian men today.

Alas, our World Cup campaign is over. The good news is that we know that should we play the “Australia way” then we can match it with the best. Australia’s incoming coach, whoever that may be, will do well to be instructed by that.

The players will play for their country. And that, in the end, is all we can ask.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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