Neill: Australia to challenge world

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Australia captain Lucas Neill believes the Socceroos have sent out a strong message to every nation that they are a genuine football power by qualifying for consecutive World Cups.

Australia became the third country to book a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after holding Qatar to a scoreless draw on Sunday, creating history by qualifying for back-to-back tournaments for the first time.

"We've made a statement to the world that not only have we got there once, but we've come straight back and we want to go again," said Neill.

After arriving back in Sydney on Monday to prepare for the final two Asian qualifying matches against Bahrain and Japan, Neill warned the footballing world that Australia will present an ever greater threat four years after reaching the last 16 at Germany three years ago.

"From the very first camp (prior to the qualifying stage) there was an unbelievable focus to want to achieve a second qualification," he added.

"We are ready to compete against the world's best, to challenge ourselves personally and as a team.

"We've become more resilient and, with a little bit of tweaking from the management and the coaching staff, we've turned into a team who is not only 100% committed but who now have a bit of nous."

Coach Pim Verbeek has openly challenged his squad to better the standard set in Germany, reasoning that to aim any lower was pointless.

"If you go to World Cup and say 'let's win one game and we're all happy' then everybody's laughing," he said.

"We have the same target and the target is to do it better than 2006. I don't say we're going to do it better but that's the target."

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Lucas Neill

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