With the last round of group stages underway in Qatar, every passing day ensures progression for some nations while the end of the journey in the World Cup for some others.
On Wednesday, it was Group C and Group D’s turn to play out their last set of games and tell the world who goes through.
Group D went first, with France v. Tunisia and Australia v. Denmark.
If France were to win against Tunisia, Australia would only need a draw to secure progression. But with the French already going through, they decided to rest key players in this not-so-vital game.
Wahbi Khazri scored just before the hour mark to put the Tunisians in the best possible place to go forward in the competition.
For Australia to progress, they had to score.
The goal from the other game was only filtering through the stadium but fans need not worry for long, thanks to Mathew Leckie, who put the Socceroos in front at the hour mark.
The result, if stayed, would mean Australia would be progressing to the knockout stages for only the second time in their history. The only other time was in 2006 when they lost 1-0 to Italy in the Round of 16.
The impact of the goal was not downplayed at all, not just in the stadium, where the crowd went wild, but back in Australia as well, where “wild” is an understatement. It was 3:30 AM back home when the goal went in.
An absolutely chaotic scene usually associated with crazy footballing nations like those in Europe was played in Fed Square in Melbourne, with flares being lit and the crowd going crazy.
Fed Square has become a go-to place for footballing fans down under with thousands gathering to watch their team play in Qatar.
But the game was not done yet, as supporters were eagerly waiting for the final whistle, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeting in support of his nation.
The final whistle came with the score unchanged, and then, at 4 AM in the morning, came the pandemonium.
First came the usual flashes of the phone cameras, eagerly waiting to capture the historic moment. Then the smoke and the flares.
Really something we do not associate with Australian football but love to see it. In fact, as stated previously, it is something we expect from mad footballing nations like England.
One common theme we saw across previous tournaments from English supporters was them throwing their beer pints in the air when a goal was scored.
The same happened this time around when Marcus Rashford scored the opening goal in the 3-0 win against Wales. The win would secure safe passage to the next round of the cup.
But unlike the Australians, Twitter is calling the English behaviour forced and fake as if to just maintain some sort of tradition.
And we have to say, the more it happens, the more it looks like fans are doing it because it is the ‘norm’, or because they will get featured on some viral tweet.
That being said, it is also wrong to compare the two scenarios.
One is of a nation expected to go through and play to top the group rather than qualify. The other is a big outsider who is fighting to qualify for only the second time in history.
Of course, the passion of the latter is much more pronounced than the former. That does not mean that English fans lack passion. It was a routine win for them, after all.
The good thing for both sets of supporters though, is that they get a chance to do this all over again.
Australia faces a tough task in Argentina, while England faces Senegal.
Will the flares and the pints get to come out again? Only time will tell. We certainly hope so.
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