DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Lionel Messi of Argentina tracked by Aaron Mooy (l) Kye Rowles (2l) Mathew Leckie (2r) and Jackson Irvine (r) of Australia during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Argentina and Australia at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The Socceroos World Cup campaign came to an end at the hands of Argentina on Sunday morning, but the 26 players that represented our country will return as heroes after a World Cup run that Australians will remember for a lifetime.

At one point a little over a year ago, it seemed that we were not even going to make it out of our Asian Qualification group, but fast forward to the present day and Australian Football is in the best position it has ever been in.

The performances of the Socceroos at the World Cup united the nation and ignited a passion for the sport we have never seen before, creating scenes of thousands of people in celebration at places such as Federation Square and Darling Harbour. 

Below I discuss the Socceroos performance at the World Cup and score some individual player ratings following the tournament. 

Overall, I genuinely don't think the squad could have done much more. All players put in maximum effort when on the pitch, showed true Australian spirit and took it up to some of the world's best footballers.

The first match against France was unfortunately utter dominance by Les Blues for majority of the match even after the Socceroos went 1-0 up early in the match via Craig Goodwin. 

Kylian Mbappe's world-class quality was too much for our heroes to handle and neither our midfield or defence could keep up with the quality of the French. After a heavy 4-1 defeat there was not much hope across the nation heading into the final two group stages against Tunisia and Denmark.

The match against Tunisia was going to be heavily reliant on our ability to defend. European pundits and a lot of people around the world looked at it and saw players from Dundee United, Hearts and Stoke City and expected us to concede in every game. 

What people did not know is that our two rocks in centre back - Kye Rowles and Harry Souttar - are destined for big, big things, and Tunisia had no way through. 

The African nation had no clear-cut opportunities for the whole match due to the Socceroos resilience and defensive pressure - in fact, Australia had a total of 273 defensive pressures applied during the match which is a massive number.

A goal-saving tackle from Harry Souttar put confidence and belief into every Australian that it was possible we may be able to get a result from Denmark and progress through to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006.

Graham Arnold decided to switch his right full-back for the Denmark game for the third time in the tournament - sacrificing natural full-back creativity for defensive ability by throwing centre-back Milos Degenek in that position.

It was a risky move, but the extra height at the back proved vital for the Socceroos as Denmark attempted a huge 32 crosses for the whole match. 

The game was dominated by Denmark for the majority, and the Socceroos at times looked slow and lethargic due to the amount of game time in such a short period of space - and it was up to the under-pressure Australian coach Graham Arnold to produce tactical brilliance to get his team over the line in unlikely circumstances.

Enter half-time substitute Keanu Baccus. His pressure, intensity and confidence was elite for the final 45 minutes of the match. The injection of pressure that the Socceroos so desperately needed.

And only 15 minutes after halftime, Mat Leckie put his nation ahead with a dream run and finish through the middle.

The Socceroos defence for the remainder of the game remained compact, organised and most of all brilliant as we held on for a 1-0 win and qualified for the round of 16.

Australian celebrations went viral in the media all around the World. The scenes at Federation Square were unreal, and the World suddenly realised that Australia is a footballing nation.

The match against Argentina was always going to be a tough one and not many people expected a tired Socceroos outfit to put up much of a fight, but once again with true Aussie spirit, the Socceroos did not give up, and took Argentina to the wire.

Australia were always in the game against Argentina and once again defended brilliantly for the majority - but like most players in the world, they just could not stop Lionel Messi, who scored and put out a man-of-the-match performance.

If it was not for a world-class save from Emiliano Martinez on Garang Kuol in the dying stages, we may still be in the World Cup.

Over the duration of the World Cup, Graham Arnold's tactics and substitutions were nothing short of brilliant, and given the immense pressure he was under before the tournament commenced, he deserves all the praise he can get. 

The natural 4-4-2 formation and having Riley McGree even playing as a second striker at times was a touch of genius. It allowed Mitch Duke to have plenty of space to allow crosses or lofted passes for his aerial prowess, as well as giving the target man plenty of options to play wide from the middle. 

Arnold also had our wingers sitting a bit deeper than usual which sacrificed a little bit of quick, counter-attacking wide play but assisted the full-backs dramatically. Leckie's defensive work rate was nothing short of brilliant for the duration of the tournament as well. 

Many people wanted Arnold to be sacked prior to the World Cup, but it is quite possible he will be offered a new contract due to his performance in Qatar. He has proved many doubters wrong and deserves to stay as coach of our National Team.

Overall, for the 30th-best-ranked team in the World Cup to progress as far as they did shows that Football in Australia is on the up. The passion shown by sports fans across the country is like nothing that has been seen before.

The performances by this squad of 26 players has ignited Football in this country and with the Women's World Cup hosted by Australia only 7 months away, it's only going to get better.

World Cup Player Ratings

Mathew Ryan - 7

Featured in all four games. Australia's captain was as vocal and composed as ever for the majority of the tournament. Made some crucial saves in the group stages as we advanced to the Round of 16. An unfortunate error against Argentina cost him a higher rating. May be his last World Cup.

Nathaniel Atkinson - 4

Featured in one game against France. Unfortunately, totally ripped to shreds by Kylian Mbappe. Succumbed to injury after that match and did not play again.

Fran Karacic - 6

Featured twice, started against Tunisia. Started horribly but grew into the game very well and defended nicely. Subbed on against Argentina and delivered some threatening crosses.

Milos Degenek - 6

Featured three times. Defended really well against both Denmark and Argentina but was poor going forward from right-back, although not his natural position.

Harry Souttar - 9 

Socceroos MVP of the World Cup. Featured in all four games. Made a heroic tackle against Tunisia which was crucial for making it past the group stage. Was brilliant in every game, a big European move will arrive shortly.

Kye Rowles - 8

Featured in all four games. Was also very good, especially against Denmark where he did not put a foot wrong. Only featured in a handful of games for his new club Hearts, but can't see him hanging around long. Top quality centre-back who enjoyed a great World Cup.

Bailey Wright - 6

Featured once against Denmark as a substitute. Didn't put a foot wrong in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch and defended well. 

Aziz Behich - 7 

Featured in all four games. Behich has a knack of performing poorly in big games and against France he was once again very poor. However, Behich was outstanding for the rest of the tournament, especially defensively. He shut down Skov Olsen brilliantly against Denmark, and almost even scored a brilliant solo goal against Argentina. A good campaign in what was likely his last World Cup.

Jackson Irvine - 7

Featured in all four games. Did not offer too much offensively but was defensively brilliant. Work rate off the charts. Really calm on the ball in possession but was also a touch slow at times. Possibly his last World Cup.

Aaron Mooy - 6

Featured in all four games. Showed brilliance at times but was slow on the ball often. Looked very tired early on in the final matches against Denmark and Argentina. Defended well when required. Lacked the killer ball we are so used to seeing. Likely his last World Cup.

Keanu Baccus - 7

Featured in three games. Was brilliant against Denmark as a substitute, showed great desire, composure and pressure. Composed on the ball, was defensively sound and has a load of confidence. One to keep an eye on in club Football.

Ajdin Hrustic - 5

Featured three times as a substitute. Unfortunately lacked the creative spark we are so used to seeing, however was under an injury cloud for the whole tournament. Will be a leader at the 2026 World Cup should we qualify.

Riley McGree - 7 

Featured in all four games. Was very quiet against France but picked it up against Tunisia and Denmark. Played with energy and plenty of creative flair and got the assist for the goal against Denmark. Was utilised in midfield, on the wing and as a second striker, proving his versatility.

Craig Goodwin - 8

Feature in all four games. From working at KFC to scoring in the World Cup, Goodwin had a tournament to remember. Scored against France and Argentina, and assisted against Tunisia. Made in the A-League. 

Mat Leckie - 8 

Most people were under the impression Leckie was too old and not good enough anymore, but this tournament proved them wrong. The winger was brilliant in most games, and scored the winner against Denmark to send Australia through to the round of 16. Never stopped working, and his defensive work rate was insane. Wears the shirt with pride.

Awer Mabil - 5 

Featured twice as a substitute. Lacked any sort of effort, creativity or flair and seemed down on confidence when on the pitch. A shame considering he started the majority of the Socceroos qualification matches.

Mitch Duke - 7

Featured in all four games. His physical prowess was vital against Tunisia and Denmark, as was his goal. He isn't the most attractive of footballers technically but is a thoroughly important part of the Socceroos squad. Likely his last World Cup.

Jamie Maclaren - 5

Featured three times as a substitute. Didn't bring the form he had going for him in the A-League. Had a great chance in the box against Argentina but a poor touch let him down. Likely his last World Cup.

Jason Cummings - 5

Featured once as a substitute. Very hard to compete against Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano unfortunately and was restricted to quite simply ‘bugger all'. 

Garang Kuol - 6

Featured twice as a substitute. Didn't have a lot of opportunities against France but showed glimpses of brilliance late on against Argentina. Was so unlucky to not have scored a later equaliser to force extra time. He is a generational talent and will only be 21 years old when the next World Cup comes around.

Andrew Redmayne, Danny Vukovic, Thomas Deng, Joel King, Cameron Devlin, Marco Tilio - N/A

These players did not make an appearance at the World Cup.