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Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 7

Robbie Cornthwaite discusses the return of Craig Goodwin from the Socceroos' World Cup campaign and looks ahead to Round 7.
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What a wonderful ride!

The Socceroos gave us absolutely everything we could have ever asked for. If one or two things had been different, we would be lining up in a Quarter Final against Netherlands. What a joy that would have been!

Four matches, two wins, and two clean sheets. And although we went down to France and Argentina, we had moments of pure ecstasy that’ll stay with us for the rest of our lives. It just so happens two of those moments were delivered by our very own Craig Goodwin.

The Reds skipper was a standout performer throughout the tournament. Leading in, he was in incredible form and carried it on to the biggest stage in the world.

While his form and attacking threat warranted a start, one wonders: what would have happened if Martin Boyle been fit to take Goodwin’s place in the starting eleven? Would Mitchell Duke have missed out and would Mathew Leckie have gone up top? I guess we’ll never know, and we are better for it.

While he didn’t start in the Round of 16 game for tactical reasons, he was the one who ignited the comeback. His shot may have been flying high and wide, but he bought a ticket.

It was only one of a few occasions when someone in a green and gold shirt pulled the trigger from long range. Goodwin was willing to put that responsibility on his shoulders and have a dip. He hasn’t been credited with the goal, but without his bravery and confidence to shoot from there, Australia’s fightback may have never gotten started.

It’s made me wonder: where does he sit in terms of South Australia’s greatest ever footballers?

There are people more qualified than me who can lead the debate, but, in my eyes, he now comfortably sits along side the likes of John Aloisi or John Kosmina. He may not have the numbers or the same success overseas as some others, but his contribution in a national team shirt at the World Cup is as fine as you’ll ever see.

Be proud, Reds fans; he’s one of our own.

I want to make mention of a couple of former players as well. Awer Mabil didn’t play as much as he would have liked, I am sure, but he can hold his own and could still play in 2026.

Leckie started his journey at Hindmarsh and moved into my house when he first arrived. To see how far he’s come is remarkable. A rough diamond who would run through brick walls, he’s a little more polished now and still never takes a backward step. He got his moment against Denmark, and I couldn’t be happier.

Riley McGree was outstanding too. His energy and tactical knowledge were first-class. He’s only going to grow from this experience and have plenty more big moments in a Socceroos jersey.

Australia united the nation, and people will remember where they were and who they were with when Australia took it to the world. I know I will.

As for this weekend’s match against Brisbane, it’ll be interesting to see how Carl and the players return from the break. They entered the layoff with so much momentum, and with Christmas around the corner, it’s important they continue well. Some teams might be caught out after a pause in the league, and teams who are fully focused and ready to go without one eye on Christmas and New Year’s Eve can get a jump on the opposition.

We know Craig put his hand up before he left to play against Melbourne Victory, despite having the World Cup on the line. His loyalty to the team can never be questioned, and I’m sure he’s saying he’d be fine with being involved – even if it’s off the bench.

But…

I’d give Goody some downtime. Not only will he be physically exhausted, but emotionally. It would have taken its toll.

Once he gets off the plane and gets in his own bed for the first time in a month, he’ll crash.

There’ll be a tinge of sadness as well, I’m sure. You work your whole life to achieve something so big, and now it’s passed. He grabbed it with both hands and left no stone unturned. He’s earned his rest.

We are so proud.

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