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Rediff.com  » Sports » Aus fans celebrate World Cup entry with Sydney party

Aus fans celebrate World Cup entry with Sydney party

June 19, 2013 14:48 IST

Australia's soccer team celebrated with hundreds of fans at a victory party in Sydney on Wednesday after eking out a nervous win over Iraq that sealed their ticket to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

Their victory drew bleary-eyed fans young and old to Sydney's Customs House, all draped in green and gold, keen to meet the players, who were welcomed with wild cheers and applause and threw bright yellow soccer balls into the crowd.

Australia's player Josh Kennedy poses for pictures with fans during an event to celebrate their World Cup qualification in central Sydney on WednesdayAlthough the victory party shut down two streets, it was meagre compared to the collective pandemonium of 80,000 raucous fans on Tuesday, as they sung Peter Allen's classic tune "I Go To Rio" at the sound of the final whistle.

The torrential rain did not put a dampener on celebrations as unacquainted fans high-fived each other and chanted "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" in jubilation.

The win was a pleasant turn of events for Australian fans after a dismal sporting year, including the cricket team bowing out of the Champions Trophy amidst off-field dramas and the British and Irish Lions demolishing most of Australia's Super Rugby sides.

"I didn't get home until about 2:30am, to be honest," said fan Steve Southworth, with marker and poster in hand. "Lots of drinks, lots of yelling, lost my voice at the end of the night. It was really good."

Supporters had been kept on edge on Tuesday as forward Josh Kennedy was subbed on for Tim Cahill after a scoreless 78 minutes.

But nerves quickly turned to ecstasy and relief as Kennedy headed home a cross from Mark Bresciano with seven minutes left.

"Post-goal (celebration) was crazy," said Catherine Xiong. "But we celebrated like that a few times because of the disallowed goals. It was 'practice'."

An elated Kennedy posed for photos and signed shirts and posters deep into the crowd.

"Moments like these, you never forget," Kennedy told reporters.

"There was a lot of champagne flowing around and a few sore eyes (last night)."

Cahill embraced coach Holger Osieck in a tight bear hug during the celebration, despite his frustration at being substituted in the dying minutes.

"You know, to be in another World Cup, a third consecutive one, is pretty special," said Cahill.

Photograph: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

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