The Socceroos suffered the agony of missing automatic qualification last month on goal difference, with Japan and Saudi Arabia taking the top two spots in Group B of the Asian qualifying section.
Ange Postecoglou’s men must now go through a challenging, extended and arduous road to reach Russia next year, which starts with a two-legged tie against Syria – the winners of which will face the fourth best team from CONCACAF qualifying, again over a two-leg play-off.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s play-off first-leg clash with Syria – a game which is being played at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Malaysia – Irvine wants he and his international team-mates to put the disappointment of missing out on automatic qualification firmly behind them.
“It was incredibly disappointing that we didn’t qualify on the last matchday,” Irvine told the Australian press.
“You have your days of disappointment in football. We all felt it and it hurt a lot.
“But as soon as this game was announced, your focus has to turn forward, and that is what we have done.
“We are fully prepared and focused, but also relaxed. We know that if we perform to our highest levels it will be enough to get us over the line.
“Everyone knows that the away games are always different, always more difficult.
“And with conditions it poses entirely different questions to those at home. But it’s important to lay down a good marker. We’ll be coming at it all guns blazing to try and put ourselves in a good position going into the home tie.”
Irvine’s impressive form at club level has seen the midfielder become a regular feature in Australian squads for the past 18 months, and the Tigers’ recent signing is keen to play his part in helping his nation secure a fourth successive appearance in the World Cup Finals.
“For me it is the highest honour in the game to be called up for your country,” he added.
“You have to take every opportunity with both hands, because you never how limited it (opportunities) will be.
“So you have to treat every match like it is your last. For the last 12 months I have been trying to do that. I want to do my part in getting my country to the World Cup.”