Long road has battle-hardened the Socceroos

The longest road to qualification in World Cup history may have left the Socceroos battered and bruised, but most importantly it has battle-hardened the team for Russia.

Defender Trent Sainsbury says the players will enter the tournament fearless after surviving the gruelling and arduous campaign that's taken nearly 2?? years and required a new record for games played and distance travelled to reach the tournament.

It's been the hardest qualification campaign any nation has endured, but in surviving that to reach a fifth world cup for Australia, Sainsbury says the Socceroos will enter Russia resilient and confident of gaining a result against anyone.

"I don't believe in fate but it's been a hardening experience for the team. Now this team is battle ready," Sainsbury said. "I've had a lot of problems along the way, physically and mentally it's been really tough. There's been a lot of questions asked of this team and everyone says Australia likes to do it the hard way."

The Socceroos are set to receive a tough draw in the tournament after being seeded in Pot 4 - the lowest for the group stage - which will be drawn on December 2 (AEDT) in Moscow. However, goalkeeper Mat Ryan is not the least bit bothered about who Australia receives in its draw and says the team is determined to make a statement on the world stage, they're not simply in Russia to make up the numbers.

"[We will be ] showing the world the perception that Australia is just an underdog nation with a fighting football style is rubbish," Ryan said. "We want to go there and play an attractive brand of football and show the world that Australia is actually a nation that can play football."

Speaking immediately after the match, it was first satisfaction before jubilation that gripped the team after surviving the exhausting campaign that took them to the Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia, Australia and Central America before their flights to Russia could be booked.

"There's a lot of relief in there, a lot of happiness, I'm not going to lie. The last time I was this happy, I think I proposed to my missus and she said yes. It's been a hell of a journey and we owe it to the Australian football public," he said.

The Jiangsu Suning defender is set to undergo surgery in Australia on Monday after battling a groin injury in recent months.

Sainsbury did not reveal the nature of his surgery after the second-leg result in Sydney, but he was hampered by a groin injury for Asian qualifiers against Japan and Thailand in August-September.

"I'll be staying around here [in Australia]," Sainsbury told Fox Sports. "I've had problems with my body lately, so Monday I'm going to go in for surgery. It's been about six months coming so finally I can get it done and get it to rest."

Sainsbury could be in the market for a transfer from the Chinese Super League in the January transfer window.

With AAP

This story Long road has battle-hardened the Socceroos first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.