Since qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the standard of the Aussie team has risen dramatically. Many of the Socceroos players can be seen in the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A and the German Bundesliga – plus the national team are four-time OFC Nations Cup champions. However, with the tough competition of Germany, and not-so-tough-but-still-better-than-Australia Serbia and Ghana in their group, we still predict they’ll be eliminated in the first round.
The 53-year-old Dutchman has impressive FIFA World Cup experience for teams with modest expectations (lucky for Australia, then). Verbeek has a great track record as an assistant coach, but this doesn’t necessarily guarantee success as history is littered with great assistants who have failed as the main man. The heat is on.
Player to watch
Despite his diminutive stature, Cahill’s massive presence on the pitch makes him crucial to the squad’s success. His well-timed runs and ability in the air make him a serious threat to opposition defences. Cahill was also the first Australian to score in a World Cup.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 2
Previous best: Last 16, 2006
Odds of winning: 125/1
Strange but true: Australia hold the prestigious record of the biggest victory in an international football match: 31-0 against American Samoa in 2001. Archie Thompson scored 13 of these goals, which is a world record in itself.
Fixtures: Germany, June 13, 10.30pm, Durban Ghana, June 19, 6pm, Rustenburg Serbia, June 23, 10.30pm, Nelspruit