Football Federation Australia CEO and former Aussie Rules supremo Ben Buckley says he’s certainly a football man now, as the Socceroos look to secure a consecutive World Cup appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The former AFL chief operating officer was hired by the FFA in 2006, after former CEO John O’Neil left his post to return back to Rugby union.
In his time as CEO, Ben Buckley has ridden the qualification wave with the rest of the country, with Australia potentially about to become the first team to book its place in South Africa with a win over Uzbekistan on Wednesday.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, the Australian football chief claimed to have been engulfed by a game with which he had no previous experience.
“Well, if the level of anxiety is the measure of being a football person, then yes I am one!” Buckley declared.
“It’s a bit like being an expectant father; we have sort of been qualifying for the last 18 months and hopefully we can give birth to another World Cup journey.”
With a historic back to back World Cup qualification berth potentially awaiting the Socceroos next Wednesday evening, the 42-year-old Tasmanian summed up the mood in the camp.
“It’s very positive, the atmosphere is exciting, the players know that they are on the cusp of going back-to-back, which is what their goal is and has been from day one.
“It’s the first time we have qualified through Asia.
“I just truly believe that the players have been focused from day one; we don’t want to let 2006 become a one hit wonder."
With a crowd of between 50-60,000 expected in the 82,000 capacity ANZ Stadium on April 1, the FFA CEO pushed Sydney residents to support the Socceroos.
“There is no doubt, a big crowd and a passionate crowd and vocal crowd plays a big role,” Buckley continued.
“You might be sitting in the stands but you are assisting the team, and you are assisting them to qualify for the World Cup.
“I would encourage every Football fan that is out there to get along and support the team - don’t by any means think that we are qualified.”
A watchful tone then emerged, as Buckley added to Australia international Harry Kewell’s earlier comments at a press conference on Saturday.
“It can still go very wrong,” Kewell warned.
“The teams that we are playing in the next four games are very good teams, especially the next one [Uzbekistan] on Wednesday.”
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com