World Cup Team Profile - Australia
Coach: Ange Postecoglou
Captain: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
Full Australia Roster
The Road to Rio: The Socceroos’ path to the final started in the third round of Asian qualifying thanks to a bye. There they met little opposition, handily winning Group D while enduring only a single away loss to Thailand. This might partially explain the thinking behind their decision to get out of the Oceania conference prior to the 2010 World Cup, as they advanced to the final round with a 40 per cent shot at one of two guaranteed berths.
In the fourth and final Asian qualification round the Aussies got off to a rough start, going winless in their first three tests drawing Oman and Japan before a road loss to Jordan. A win over Iraq (in a game held in Qatar) finally got them into the win column and the team would go unbeaten from there, posting two wins and two draws to finish second in the group behind Japan.
New York Red Bulls striker Tim Cahill scored some clutch goals to get Australia to Brazil, helping the team turn the tide and salvage points both in the crucial win against Iraq and in a surprising 2-2 draw with Oman.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Group Stage)
First World Cup appearance: West Germany 1974 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
Best World Cup finish: Round of 16 (Germany 2006)
With the 59th position in the FIFA World Rankings, Australia is the lowest ranked of the 32 teams that will be contesting the 2014 World Cup. An opening 4-0 loss to Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa most likely doomed Australia to elimination, as Ghana beat them for the second in the group with a superior goal differential.
Just as he was during the previous Cup, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill will be as important a player as the Socceroos will dress for the tournament. He enters the 2014 competition with 67 international caps as well as leading his nation all-time with 31 goals.
Midfielder Mile Jedinak, who plays for Crystal Palace in the Barclays Premier League, will be relied on defensively to help protect an inexperienced defence as well as hold the ball and allow them to transition on offence.
Ange Postecoglou, who took over the reins of the team from former boss Holger Osieck after the team had already qualified for Brazil, will be in tough having only a few friendlies to get a feel for his squad heading into the tournament.
There is nowhere to hide for Australia in this year’s competition as they will be hard pressed to get anything against either Netherlands or the defending world champions from Spain. Their first match will see them take on Chile and that could be the place where they pick up a point or even steal a win. Anything more than a result against Chile would be an ambitious goal for this team but would be fitting with the Australian sporting culture. This team might not succeed, but they will not quit.