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Opinion: A time to celebrate, not capitalise

Overblown and opportunistic? Bren O'Brien laments a lack humility in the celebrations of Australia's achievement in reaching the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil

The sheer exhilaration of the Socceroos players after Josh Kennedy's now famous header against Iraq on Tuesday stood in stark contrast to the bleak background the sporting world has endured over the previous two days.

The nation's two main football codes - rugby league and Australian rules - had suffered through separate unsavoury scandals resulting in charges laid against two high-profile players in the respective games.

On a much lesser scale, the gloom set in in England, where Australia's touring Ashes squad was knocked out of the Champions Trophy with little more than a whimper. More humiliation is set to follow.

The round ball code has often been in the news for the wrong reasons. But on Tuesday, it provided a genuine good news story as the Socceroos booked their spot in Brazil 2014 thanks to a 1-0 win over Iraq.

The players were understandably jubilant, as were the 80,000 plus fans at the former Olympic Stadium, while a nation jumped off their couches when Kennedy latched onto Mark Bresciano's clever cross to head home the winner.

It was not John Aloisi's penalty at the same venue eight years prior, but it was a genuine collective moment of national pride.

But these days it is not enough just to revel in the moment - the moment has to be prolonged into one massive marketing opportunity.

The referee had barely blown his final whistle when the players had ill-fitting Nike T-shirts slapped on their backs, and they paraded around the ground post-match not in the national uniform, but with a trite marketing message scrawled across their shirts.

The coat of arms had been over-written by 'The Swoosh'.

An uncomfortable and wildly disproportionate podium celebration followed, with confetti exploding all over the players.

This ridiculously overblown spectacle was to mark Australia qualifying to play in a tournament of 31 other nations.

To put this in context, it was like Lleyton Hewitt celebrating a seeding at Wimbledon by climbing into the players' box.

You have to wonder what would happen in the unlikely event the Socceroos actually won the thing.

The reality is that with the path that is presented through Asia, World Cup qualification should be a pass mark, not cause for a national party.

A battling 1-0 win over a second string Iraq team - determined as they were - should not be put forward as an example of our national sporting prowess.

Nor should it be used as an endorsement of the mythical 'Aussie spirit'.

Want to try some spirit? How about one looks at a team which has been unable to play a home World Cup qualifier in a decade because their nation has been riven by civil war?

Nobody can deny the players deserve the right to celebrate and in that moment a sporting nation deserved its moment of jubilation.

But we don not deserve to be treated like saps by those who cash-in on the success of our national sporting teams.

Some humility would not go astray.

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