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Jun 18, 2013

Osieck's job was on knife's edge

Australia's World Cup fate hinged on a moment of sheer "intuition" and so too, FFA boss David Gallop admits, did coach Holger Osieck's job.

At 0-0 and with 13 minutes to go in Australia's must-win World Cup qualifier against Iraq on Tuesday Osieck had one last role of the dice.

Often criticised for his decisions, the German coach made the gutsiest one so far when taking goal-machine Tim Cahill off for Josh Kennedy.

It proved a masterstroke with lanky striker Kennedy heading home the 83rd minute winner to secure the Socceroos a berth in their third successive World Cup.

Gallop gave Osieck a celebratory bottle of wine after the famous victory at ANZ Stadium, but the Football Federation chief executive on Wednesday revealed it could easily have been a farewell present.

"I got a bottle of red and put it in my car and said if we win I wanted to give Holger something just between him and me," Gallop said.

"Hopefully at some stage we'll get to share that and get to talk about the road ahead.

"There's no doubt Holger has been under pressure.

"The mission was to make it to Brazil.

"We had some hiccups along the way but he's stayed committed, he stayed cool under pressure and full credit to him for the decisions that he took.

"I asked him last night why did he make that change and he said `well, intuition and that's a great answer.

"That's what you're looking for in your coach to make those big calls and that's what he did last night."

Asked if Osieck's position was ever under serious threat if the Socceroos didn't qualify, Gallop was clear.

"Oh, he knew that was the mission," he said.

"So of course he knew that the pressure was on."

The Socceroos now have 51 weeks to prepare themselves for the world class opposition they'll face in Brazil.

With an ageing squad the upcoming East Asian Cup in South Korea shapes as a crucial opportunity to give the less experienced members of the squad game time on a big stage.

Australia will face Asian heavyweights Japan, South Korea and China in the tournament which begins July 20.

Boosting preparations, the Socceroos have also secured a friendly with World Cup hosts Brazil mooted for the city of Brasilia on September 6.

The FFA will also receive a huge financial windfall to the tune of around $10 million for securing qualification.

Gallop says it's important to invest the money not only in the national team but from the grass roots up.

"There's certainly a big kick to our coffers to make the World Cup," he said.

"It's important that we look across the whole landscape as to how to invest this money properly."

The former NRL chief executive said on top of the recent success of the A-League season, the Socceroos had provided another moment for other football codes in Australia to be envious of.

"We need to make sure that people are aware how big this is," he said.

"Over 200 nations try to get into this tournament and only 32 make it.

"So let's make sure we get on the front foot and do what we have to do to make sure this is good for the sport.

"In the competitive environment that we're in this is a big moment for Australian football.

"Of course the other codes would be concerned where football is at.

"This is the world game and the momentum that we've got is quite extraordinary."

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