Shoot to thrill: why the Socceroos are ready if World Cup playoff comes down to penalties

He’d rather it doesn’t come to it but Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is confident his team will be ready should their World Cup play-off with Peru have to be decided by a dreaded penalty shootout.

Australia will discover in 24 hours whether they will qualify for a fifth-straight World Cup or miss out on this year’s tournament in a winner-takes-all clash against their South American opponents in Qatar on Monday (Tues 0400 AEST).

Arnold was part of Guus Hiddink’s coaching staff for the famous 2005 World Cup play-off shootout win over Uruguay in Sydney. Australia also tasted success in a shootout during Arnold’s reign, defeating Uzbekistan in a round of 16 tie at the 2019 Asian Cup.

“I’ve been involved in every penalty shootout in Socceroo history,” Arnold told AAP. “That’s crazy and I don’t want to go to another one, but I do know how to prepare for penalty shootouts.

“It’s been there in the past – 2005, Asian Cup 2018 against Uzbekistan,” said the coach. “I clearly remember how Guus Hiddink did it to get the boys prepared and will do the same.” Adding further to Arnold’s shootout know-how is assistant Tony Vidmar, who was one of those to score in that win over Uruguay.

Captain Matty Ryan was in the stands at Stadium Australia that night and played a key role in the shootout win over the Uzbeks in 2019. Ryan made two saves in that shootout while Mathew Leckie scored the winner.

“You always try and get yourself across takers and all those types of stuff,” Ryan told reporters. “Educate yourself on if you can find something within certain players within their team to gain an advantage, but if it comes to that, I’ll use all that I’ve learnt in my career until now to try and do my best to come out on top in that scenario.

“It’d be nice to deliver World Cup qualification, if it was to play out that way, but preferably I’d like to do it within the 90 minutes and do it collectively with the team.”

Meanwhile in Peru, an expectant nation holds its breath as a public holiday is called in the South American nation for the do-or-die play-off between the la Blanquirroja (the white-and-red) and the Socceroos. While those in Peru are expected to be glued to TV screens watching the action, approximately 12,000 fans have made the trip to Doha to cheer on from the stands at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Peru captain Pedro Gallese says the hopes of the nation are reflected in those of the players. “People make great sacrifices to support us, we’re all aware of this, so it’s a great moment and we have to experience it, and be present, make the most of the opportunities.

“It’s a great opportunity and, yes, I want to experience these moments of my career and just make the most of it,” the experienced goalkeeper said. “I know my team very well and we just want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Peru are bidding to reach a second-straight World Cup after appearing in Russia four years ago, their first trip to a finals since 1982. Their ticket to Russia was booked with a play-off win over New Zealand in 2017, although that tie was settled over two legs.

Coach Ricardo Gareca said the one-off format of the clash with Australia would make for a much different contest. “This is a key match and the fact that we’ve already played an inter-continental playoff, I don’t think it’s that important,” Gareca said. “Every game is different and what we want to do is to keep on growing.

“We’ve known each other for seven years in our national team,” said the man known as ‘The Tiger’. “We have experienced very tough situations, we cope with them. We know that the way forward is a tough one but this is what we want to do. We’re all ready for this type of match.We have a broad experience [but] so does Australia. We are both in the same situation and we hope to make the most of this opportunity.”