The Aussies at FIFA level 59 might be the lowest ranked amongst all 32 teams participating in the 2014 World Cup Football in Brazil but they are certainly not short on enthusiasm. On Wednesday, 28th May, they became the first team to arrive in Brazil to take on the might of the world. Fondly called the socceroos (a quaint mixture of soccer and kangaroos), Australia, reaching their third successive World Cup finals, faced the first setback in December 2013, when they were drawn in Group B alongside mighty Spain and the Netherlands, 2010 winners and runners-up, and the South American football powerhouse Chile. The start has not been too auspicious either with a first game loss to Chile 1 – 3.
Even though it has been the sporting tradition of Australia to fight to the bitter end and not give up till the final shot is taken or the last ball bowled, it is difficult to visualize the team going beyond the first round this time. The best finish till now has been entry to Round 2 in 2006.
Picking the Aussie squad has not been easy. After a rather scrappy Asian qualifying and losing heavily to Brazil and France in friendly warm up games, the then coach Holger Osieck was sacked in October 2013 and replaced by Ange Postecoglou, the coach of local Melbourne Victory club. He decided to form the core of the team from youngsters in the lower leagues of Europe, domestic A-League and a smattering of veterans. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer of 109 internationals fame retired and former captain Lucas Neill has been excluded. Tim Cahill, playing in his third successive World Cup has been retained and he has more than proved the coach right by slotting in the only goal for Australia against Chile.
It now remains to be seen how Australia fares in the remaining first round matches, although only diehard optimists will put their bets on the team.
Oct 07, 2014 1