A new chapter began for Joshua Kennedy when the 25-year-old
swapped German Cup winners Nuremberg for promoted Karlsruhe in the
winter transfer window. A fringe player in Bavaria, the 1.94m (6 ft
4 in) striker swiftly became a crowd favourite at his new club,
firing four goals as KSC comfortably preserved their top flight
status, although the hitman watched with mixed feelings as his
former club suffered the agony of relegation.
Kennedy's good form brought him to the attention of Australia boss Pim Verbeek. The Germany-based marksman duly appeared in his country's first 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier, netting the second goal as the Socceroos defeated Qatar 3-0.
Injury kept Kennedy out of Australia's scoreless draw in China, and the 25-year-old also misses this weekend's clash with Iraq as he struggles to shake off an ankle ligament problem.
Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com, he assessed the qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, his time in Germany and the highlight of his professional career to date.
FIFA.com: Joshua, you arrived in the German Bundesliga eight years ago. Don't you get homesick?
Joshua Kennedy: Of course I miss my home country. Australia will always be home to me. I'm happily settled in Germany, but I still think I'll go back to Australia after I finish playing.
You've blossomed since switching to Karlsruhe, with four goals in the second half of the season. What are your feelings about your new club?
I'm very happy here, but it's not difficult when you've made such a good start. You're always going to feel fine if you're delivering the goods.
Let's talk about the Australian team. You marked your debut with a goal against Liechtenstein. What are your memories of your first international?
It was a World Cup warm-up match. I came on with the score 1-1 and put us 2-1 up straight away. Scoring a decisive goal was a fantastic way to start. I was very happy.
You made two appearances for your country at the FIFA World Cup ™Germany. How did you enjoy the first FIFA World Cup of your career?
The World Cup in Germany was the highlight of my career so far. It was an unforgettable experience. It all just came together so well. The World Cup was in Germany, I knew the language, and we performed well at the tournament.
The lowest point of your career came after Germany 2006, as you missed the entire 2006/07 campaign with injury. What do you remember about that frustrating period?
I set my sights high after the World Cup, but then I picked up the injury. Obviously, my memories of that period aren't happy, but it was a phase I had to get through. I gained a lot of experience, and at the end of the day I'm stronger for it.
You made your comeback for the Socceroos last September. After so long out with injury, were you expecting the call-up?
Yeah, I was actually. I was fit and healthy at the start of the season, I just lacked match practice, so the September timing was optimal. I'd had enough playing time in the Bundesliga by then.
You scored in Australia's 3-0 victory against Qatar in your opening 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier, the perfect start to the new year and the qualifying campaign.
Winning our first qualifier was vital, especially at home. You never know exactly what lies in wait away from home.
Your next opponents are Asian champions Iraq. Would you agree that Iraq are your toughest group rivals?
I didn't play at the Asia Cup so I'm not in a position to make comparisons, but overall I think we've been drawn in the hardest Asian group of the lot. We'll have to give it everything we've got, and see what kind of result we end up with.
After appearing in 1974 and 2006, will Australia make it three FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa?
Obviously I hope we're there in 2010. But it's a long qualifying campaign and we'll only really know if we're on our way to South Africa over the next 12 to 18 months.