Jackson Irvine hopes Australia can reward fans who get up early to watch their World Cup playoff against Peru and inspire the next generation of ‘Socceroos’ with victory.
The one-off clash for a spot in the Qatar finals kicks off in Doha from 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Monday, meaning fans in Australia will need to rise in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to catch the game on screens.
“It seems like a lifetime ago but in a different time that was me getting up and watching games in the morning,” Irvine said in Doha.
“Hopefully the younger generation will be waking up and some future Socceroos can tell their own story about how they saw us qualify and come live it themselves.”
Australia and Irvine are no strangers to the playoffs route, having reached the 2018 World Cup in Russia after two-legged knockouts against Syria and Honduras.
Irvine played in the scoreless first leg of that playoff against Honduras and was an unused substitute for the decisive 3-1 win in the return leg in Sydney, where Australia sealed qualification for a fourth successive World Cup in front of an ecstatic crowd of 77,000 at the Olympic stadium.
“A lot of the lads who are here today were part of that, so we need to bring that to the players who weren’t there,” said Germany-based Irvine.
“Every bit of the past experience can help us grow and contribute to what we’re going to be doing next week as well.”
There will only be a few dozen travelling fans and a smattering of Australian expats at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday but the Socceroos are used to playing in front of rows of empty seats in Doha.
They beat United Arab Emirates 2-1 in Asia’s World Cup playoff on Tuesday at the same stadium, and Jordan in a friendly by the same score at another Doha stadium last week.
They also won both their “home” World Cup qualifiers in the Qatari capital last year while Australia’s borders were effectively shut due to COVID-19.
“Every experience is unique,” said Irvine, who scored the first goal in the win over the Emiratis.
“It’s a very different environment but hopefully we’ll be there to deliver the same outcome.”