Ken Randall, President of the National Press Club,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for the invitation to address you today.
I’ve never faced the nation’s media en masse like this before, and I must say that contrary to your reputation, you all look friendly enough!
First – it’s really been a big week for football.
I’m ecstatic that the Socceroos qualified for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa, just the second time we’ve qualified since 1974.
The last time we qualified in 2005 we did it by the skin of our teeth – in a penalty shoot-out in the last game of the last qualifying round. In fact, we were the last team in the world to qualify.
Now, with one game to go against Japan this week, we are on top of our group, winning five games and drawing two; scoring 10 goals with seven clean sheets – that’s seven games with no goals against.
That says a lot about how far we’ve come. The Socceroos and coach Pim Verbeek deserve enormous recognition for that.
Yesterday we officially launched Australia’s bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
We have embarked on a Herculean task.
Victory would fulfil our wildest dreams.
But even the worst outcome – failing to win either – unthinkable though it is, would still leave a legacy that makes embarking on this journey worthwhile: certainly for the game of football in Australia, but also for the wider community.
So we enter the battle confidently, and we enter it to win; but we enter it mindful that we will need to wrest every vote from very powerful, well qualified nations whose ambition to host the World Cup is every bit as fierce as ours.
Let me answer the naysayers upfront …