Australia - a guide to the World Cup hopefuls
Progressing out of a tough group would be some achievement for Australia, given that they are still relative newcomers on the world stage. They are an emerging footballing nation, though, and Chris Burton examines whether they are capable of causing a stir in South America.
Last Updated: 06/06/14 3:03pm
Australia first graced the World Cup finals in 1974, but they are relative newcomers to the global stage and 2014 will see them gracing football’s showpiece event for just the fourth time. This is their third successive visit, though, and they will have taken important lessons from past showings.
Getting out of a testing group will be a challenge in itself, with the Socceroos ranked some 40-odd places below the rest of their rivals by FIFA and unable to call upon the kind of show-stopping talent others have at their disposal.
They are a hard-working side, though, and boast no lack of ability. Failing to get over the first hurdle in 2010 will still rankle and a better showing will be demanded four years on. If they can get off to a winning start then anything is possible, but they rather stumbled their way through qualification and know they need to raise their game considerably if they are to make a lasting impression in Brazil.
Australia’s Group B fixtures
1. Friday June 13: Chile vs Australia – Cuiaba (23.00)
2. Wednesday June 18: Australia vs Netherlands – Porto Alegre (17.00)
3. Monday June 23: Australia vs Spain – Curitiba (17.00)
Coach: Ange Postecoglou
He may be Greek-born, but Postecoglou has called Australia home since the age of five so is well versed on the demands of a sport-mad nation that expects to be competitive whenever it takes to the field. Rather surprisingly, he has been offered the opportunity to work at a World Cup finals despite seeing his predecessor guide the Socceroos to Brazil. German tactician Holger Osieck booked the tickets to Brazil, but it is Postecoglou who will be taking a seat on the plane. Crushing defeats in back-to-back friendly contests against Brazil and France cost Osieck his job and opened the door to former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach Postecoglou.
Star man: Tim Cahill
One of few remaining regulars from the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ of Australian football, Cahill is still going strong at the age of 34. He is already his country’s leading goalscorer of all-time, having found the target on 31 occasions, and is easily the most potent attacking weapon Postecoglou has at his disposal. His domestic campaign with MLS outfit the New York Red Bulls has seen him nursing early-season knocks, but they have been shaken off in plenty of time to hit peak fitness ahead of a trip to Brazil. Cahill’s vast experience and keen eye for goal – which he showcased for 14 memorable years in England with Millwall and Everton – will be crucial if Australia are to fare any better at his third World Cup than they have at his previous two.
Tournament best: Round of 16, 2006
Goalkeepers: Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge)
Defenders: Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Bailey Wright (Preston North End).
Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (Sion).
Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets).
British based players: Bailey Wright, Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town).
Australia have it all to do to progress beyond the group stages and are priced 6/1 to qualify for the second round. They reached the last 16 in 2006 and are 8/1 to be eliminated at the same stage this time around. It's Australia's third successive appearance in the tournament and their odds of 1000/1 probably sum up their chances after some less than convincing displays of late.