ASIAN CUP FOOTBALL FINALS 2007
After the Sydney Olympics I decided to “retire” from involvement with national sporting teams and travelling to overseas conferences to spend more time at home with my teenage children.
However when the Socceroos came calling at the end of 2006 and asked me to become involved in the next World Cup campaign it was not a difficult decision to accept the job.
So began a really enjoyable four years as the Socceroos team doctor culminating in the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.
My first trip was for a friendly in London in early 2007.
Asian Cup 2007
Australia has a strong team but struggled to play their best football in the oppressive conditions. We eventually got through the qualifying phase then had to play Japan in a quarter final in Hanoi. It finished 1-1 after extra time despite Vinnie Grella getting a red card, but we lost the penalty shoot out and were therefore eliminated. Iraq went in to win the Championship in a surprising result.
Asian Cup quarter final against Japan
WORLD CUP FOOTBALL FINALS – SOUTH AFRICA 2010
We got together in Melbourne for a final friendly game against New Zealand at the MCG and then headed off to South Africa. We initially trained at Sandton just outside Johannesburg then we went to our final camp in the countryside outside Jo’burg – very nice.
Our first World Cup group game was in Durban against Germany and it was a disaster. A 4-0 loss and a harsh red card to Tim Cahill which also ruled him out of the crucial second game against Ghana.
Heads were down and we really had our backs to the wall. In the second game in Rustenburg , we played much better and were unlucky not to win finishing in a 1-1 draw not helped by another red card to Harry Kewell.
Our final group qualifying game was against Serbia. We had to win and make up significant goal difference to make it through to the next round. In our best performance of the World Cup we outplayed Serbia for a 2-1 win with Cahill and Holman scoring. However sadly it was not enough to get through to the next round.
So the World Cup campaign was over for the Socceroos. Very disappointing in the end as we felt we were good enough to get through to the next round. Ultimately the two very harsh red cards killed us.
It was time to say goodbye to the players and staff that I had spent so much time with over the previous four years. Pim and Arnie were great to work with, we had fantastic physio and fitness support staff in Phil Coles, Darren Burgess, Les Gelis and Luke Attwell, and team leader Phil Wolanski, team manager Gary Moretti and kit man Dom Rabsch were a constant source of entertainment!!
Three of the four Brukner kids came over for the tournament and had a pretty good time I think.