World Cup Preview – Australia
Best WC Performance: Round of 16 – 2006
Current World Ranking – 36
Australia are not famous for their football prowess and sadly their history at the World cup only strengthens this. Their only qualification before 2006 was way back in 1974 when they failed to escape the group stage. When they eventually returned to the competition at Germany, 2006 they did manage to escape the group but got no further than the round of 16. Since 2006 however, they have managed to qualify for every tournament, at least providing some entertainment over the summer.
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk).
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall).
Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian).
- Vs France 11:00, 16/06/18 Kazan Arena, Kazan
- Vs Denmark 13:00, 21/06/18 Samara Arena, Samara
- Vs Peru 15:00, 26/06/18 Fisht Stadium, Sochi
Manager – Bert van Marwijk
Bert Van Marwijk’s managerial career at club level is not too impressive, barring a UEFA cup win for Feyenoord. However, this was back in 2002 and has never won a major trophy since. International management seems to be Bert’s forte as he reached the final of South Africa, 2010 finishing runners up to that famous Iniesta goal while he also guaranteed qualification for Saudi Arabia for Russia 2018. Despite this, he will be managing the Socceroos for the tournament after parting ways with Saudi Arabia.
Entering qualification at the second round of Asian qualification, Australia comfortably won their group. They finished third in round three, just two goals behind van Marwijk’s Saudia Arabia. They then beat Syria over two legs and progressed to a further play off against Honduras. After a cagey first leg 0-0, they then dispatched Honduras 3-1 in the second leg, securing qualification.
Captain – Mile Jedinak
After being involved in the national team since 2010, Mile Jedinak was finally handed the arm band in time for Brazil, 2014. A solid central midfielder, he could be behind the driving force that gets the Socceroos out of the group stage. His hat-trick against Honduras fired Australia to the tournament and so he will be hoping for more performances like this in Russia.
Danger man – Tim Cahill
Tim Cahill may nearly be 40 but is still a threat and arguably Australia’s best player of all time. His experience will be critical both on and off the pitch to get Australia performing to the best of their abilities. He became one of a select few to score at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups with two goals in Brazil. The Socceroos’ all-time top scorer may be struggling to find his best form as of late but is still the kind of player to make a meaningful difference to Australia’s World cup performance.
Young player – Daniel Arzani
Despite only making his international debut as a substitute in the warm-up friendly victory over the Czech Republic, Daniel Arzani (19) has been selected for the final 23. Clearly impressing at youth level, Arzani will be aiming to replicate his performances and obtain a ticket to Russia. The player of the year for the A-League at just 19 shows why Van Marwijk has provisionally chosen him for the squad, could he be the answer to the Socceroos’ escaping the group stage?
Premier League Players
Currently only two Australians play in the Premier League, Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield Town and Mathew Ryan of Brighton and Hove Albion. Whilst both clubs will be in the Premier League again next season, there is still a lack of Australian players in one of the world’s greatest leagues. Tim Cahill starred for Everton in the Premier League for a number of years but currently resides in the championship with Millwall, alongside defender James Meredith. Also from the Championship, QPR’s Massimo Luongo joins fellow midfielder Mile Jedinak of Aston Villa.
Unfortunately for Socceroos fans, Australia have a slim chance of escaping Group C. France are obvious favourites to progress, with both Denmark and even Peru on great form, Australia could find themselves bottom of the group. However, anything can happen in football and Australia may escape the group. If they do however, it is likely they will face Argentina and so the round of 16 may be where they exit the tournament once again.
Written by Sam Brazier.