Australia won a tense 1-0 victory over Denmark on Wednesday, to move to the World Cup’s round of 16.
Graham Arnold’s team advanced as Group D runners-up despite Tunisia’s unexpected victory against France, owing to Mathew Leckie’s game-winning goal at the Al Janoub Stadium.
The Socceroos will now face the Group C winners after qualifying for the World Cup’s knockout stage for the second time in their six tournament appearances.
The current Australia team do not have the stars of yesteryear but they make up for it with spirit and hard work, and showed flashes of quality in a strangely subdued encounter.
“I am just so proud of the players’ work ethic, their commitment, their fight,” said Arnold, who was assistant to Guus Hiddink during Australia’s run to the last 16 in Germany in 2006.
“We had some moments there (against Denmark) but defensively we were outstanding tonight.”
The 59-year-old, whose side were thumped 4-1 by France at the start of the tournament, added: “I truly believe that the Socceroos are the team that unite the nation.”
“Maybe we are talking about a new ‘golden generation’ now,” he added, in a nod to the stars of 16 years ago.