Australia, who reached the round of 16 in the World Cup in 2006, are not a team to be looked over come June 13. The Socceroos boast a wealth of talent and a wily old coach in Pim Verbeek.
Australia’s qualification campaign was probably not as difficult as many European qualification campaigns, but it might be quite a bit longer. Because of the amount of national teams vying for a chance to be in the World Cup in the Asian Confederation, Australia had to play a fair few teams to get themselves a World Cup berth. Their first group was comprised of Qatar, Iraq and China. At first glance, this seems fairly simple for the Socceroos, and it was in the end.
Then, the Australians were drawn against Japan, Bahrain, Qatar and Uzbekistan, with only Japan proving to be much of a test. The Socceroos secured qualification with two fixtures still remaining, and will have known that the real test was yet to come.
Australia’s pre-World Cup friendlies have been hit and miss. A 2-1 win over New Zealand, a 1-0 win over Denmark, and a remarkable 3-1 loss to USA. USA is a team Australia should be considering their equals, a team with similar ambitions: making it out of the groups and producing a good display in the round of 16 and hopefully the quarter-finals. Succumbing to a 3-1 loss, although it was just a friendly, to the hands of USA is quite a poor result for Australia and they must improve dramatically on that if they are to stand a chance against the Nationalelf.
Australia’s strongest XI will probably look something like this:
Schwarzer – Neill, Moore, Chipperfield – Cahill, Garcia, Wilkshire, Culina, Grella, Bresciano – Kennedy
Australia essentially play a 3-4-3 formation with Cahill and Bresciano supporting Kennedy in attack. Australia’s threat will come from Cahill. The Everton man can create as well as score, and is also fantastic in the air despite his size.
It is hard to see much coming from Australia in terms of them getting out of the group stage. Die Mannschaft must secure maximum points from this match, and surely anything less will be a complete failure.