Socceroos hero curses lost ‘moment for glory’

Australia’s 2010 World Cup hopes were hanging by a thread when the ball broke to Luke Wilkshire in the penalty area.

“I still think about it now, and get reminded about it now,” he told Wide World of Sports.

“That was my one moment for glory, and I f-–ked it.”

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The Socceroos were fresh off a flogging at the hands of Germany, and were fighting hard against Ghana with 10 men, Harry Kewell having been sent off on the goal line for a handball.

That incident had also resulted in the penalty kick that Asamoah Gyan slotted home to make it 1-1, canceling out Brett Holman’s opener.

After a superb pass from David Carney, Wilkshire, the reliable right back, somehow found himself in acres of space in the penalty area.

But with almost too much time to pick his spot, his finish was hit straight at goalkeeper Richard Kingson, and Josh Kennedy’s headed rebounded was mopped up as well.

“I was never one for the limelight and the headlines, but that would have got me it,” Wilkshire said.

“It could have been a big difference and obviously would have got us through the group, but I believe things happen for a reason.”

As a result, the Socceroos went into their final group game against Serbia needing a win, and a big swing in goal difference following their heavy defeat against Germany in the opening match, to qualify.

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“The character, and the reaction from the players was top drawer,” Wilkshire said of the group’s response in their second and third games.

“It’s easy for the players to crumble after losing 4-0, and even going down to 10 men in the second game.”

With Serbia also needing a win to advance, the game promised to be relatively open – but it took 68 minutes for the opening goal, Wilkshire picked out Tim Cahill with a superb cross, and the goalscoring superstar headed home.

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“We went into that game still believing we’d win that game, and in the other game Germany might do us a favor,” Wilkshire said.

Brett Holman doubled the advantage with a screamer four minutes’ later, but there was just one problem – they needed a combined five-goal swing between both games, and Germany were only up 1-0 as time ticked away.

“100 per cent,” Wilkshire said when asked if he was filthy that the Germans hadn’t piled on the goals.

“With the quality of that squad that they had, we thought for sure that they’d win by at least two or three, which would give us a good chance. But we were pushing hard, and that first game let us down.”

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A late Serbian goal would make it 2-1, leaving Australia to be content with a consolation victory.

Just like 2006, they ended the group stage with four points – but unlike that campaign, it wasn’t enough to reach the knockout stage.

While he always thinks about it, Wilkshire said he’s never gone back to look at that chance against Ghana again.

“I’ve never watched back any of the games, I don’t like watching back my games, I don’t want to see it again,” he said.

“I know it, I know it in my head – but that’s football.”

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