The Socceroos have qualified for their fifth straight World Cup, but they will have a difficult time getting out of Group D.
Aussie rules football, rugby, and cricket are traditionally preferred by Australians to American football, or “soccer,” as it is known there.
Nevertheless, the Socceroos have gained support from sports fans all around the nation over the past 20 years because of a golden age of players and four straight World Cup berths.
The competition this year isn’t going to be different, but anticipation will be muted after the Socceroos were assigned to a group with France, Denmark, and Tunisia, which is almost a carbon copy of their World Cup group from last year, in which Tunisia was replaced by Peru and the Socceroos were eliminated from the group stage with just a single point.
The Era known as the Golden One
With a team made mainly of amateur football players, the Socceroos initially qualified for the World Cup in 1974 and were eliminated from the competition after only scoring one own goal.
The country’s golden generation, which included Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, and Tim Cahill, eventually gained a place at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but it would take 32 years for the country to advance to another World Cup.
This time, they had a great start, beating Japan in the first game 3-1. The Socceroos advanced to the round of 16, where they were barely defeated 1-0 by Italy, the eventual tournament champion, after losing to Brazil and drawing with Croatia.
Australia would earn a spot in the following three competitions but would not advance past the group stage. Instead, a successful 2015 AFC Asian Cup campaign would be their most cherished moment.
More than 76,000 spectators jammed the Stadium Australia in Sydney to watch a nail-biting final that saw South Korea score a last-second equalizer to force extra time before James Troisi scored the game-winning goal and ecstatic home fans.
Graham Arnold, the team’s current manager, took over in 2018 and guided them through a string of underwhelming performances at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. However, Australia’s outstanding qualification campaign, which saw them defeat UAE and Peru in the playoffs, provided the Sydney-born manager with his chance at redemption as Australia qualified for their sixth World Cup.
A Solid Squad
Even though the Australian team’s World Cup roster lacks recognizable names, it features a fascinating mix of youthful and seasoned skill.
In net, Australia can rely on Mathew Ryan, a former goalkeeper for Brighton and Hove who is presently employed by FC Copenhagen of Denmark.
Trent Sainsbury is a lock to start as center back on the defensive side. The journeyman defender earned a name for himself in the Dutch Eredivisie and is currently a member of Al-Wakrah in Qatar. He has received more than 50 caps for his nation.
Arnold will have to make some difficult choices in the middle of the field as multiple players are vying for the same spots. This season, Aaron Mooy has performed admirably for Celtic in the number 8 position, where his originality and astute passing have led to multiple assists.
Ajdin Hrustic was supposed to accompany Mooy, however he is currently questionable for the competition owing to an injury.
The quick Mathew Leckie will probably be used on the wings up front. After ten years in Germany, the 31-year-old just relocated back to Melbourne City.
Garang Kuol, an 18-year-old wonderkid who recently signed for Newcastle United and recently immigrated to Australia with his Sudanese family from Egypt, might replace Leckie up front.