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FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Australia aim to punch above their weight

Australia have played in four FIFA World Cups so far and have only made the knockout stages once, a record they will aim to improve on when they take to the field in the upcoming tournament.

football Updated: Jun 04, 2018 17:31 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA World Cup 2018,Australia team profile World Cup,Australia national football team
Australia have played in four FIFA World Cups so far and have only made the knockout stages once, a record they will aim to improve on when they take to the field in the upcoming tournament. (REUTERS)

Head coach: Bert van Marwijk

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified four times; best – round of sixteen in 2006

Qualifying route: Beat Honduras in CONCACAF vs. AFC play-off

Squad: Goalkeepers - Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Brad Jones; Defenders - Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matthew Jurman, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury; Midfielders - Mile Jedinak, Jackson Irvine, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic; Forwards - Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Matthew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Daniel Arzani, Jamie Maclaren.

Australia’s first appearance in the FIFA World Cup came in 1974, but a lack of quality wasn’t the main reason for them not making it to the tournament.

Their geographical location made it hard for other nations to tour the country before the advent of cheap air travel. There’s also the fact that they developed a habit of losing in the play-offs, even against weaker opposition.

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However, they have become a more consistent side at the turn of the millenium, qualifying for all World Cups since the year 2006.

Amazingly, they are also the only team to be crowned continental champions of two confederations, having won both the OFC (Ocenia Football Confederation) Nations Cup and AFC Asian Cup.

The current Australian national football team aren’t world beaters by any stretch of the imagination but other Group C teams would do well not to take the Socceroos lightly.

The Golden Generation of Australia has largely been phased out but the national team’s performance in the 2014 World Cup showed that the side has plenty of talent ready to step up to the plate.

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Whether or not they will be able to cause an upset in the FIFA World Cup 2018 remains to be seen, but there isn’t a lack of graft or determination in the Bert van Marwijk-coached side.

Three key players

Mile Jedinak – The former Crystal Palace and current Aston Villa midfeidler isn’t the prettiest player – both in terms of playing sense and facial features – but his smash-mouth style of play in the middle of the park is something Australia will need, especially against teams that have more talented players in their ranks.

Aaron Mooy – Another hard-working midfielder, Mooy was an integral part of a Huddersfield Town side that managed to avoid relegation from the Premier League in their first season back. His ability to work hard and keep the ball moving will be needed in an Australian team that is known more for graft than creativity.

Tim Cahill – Never mind the fact that the former Everton man barely managed to get much playing time for Milwall this season; his mere presence in the side will be a boost for them. A hard working forward with the ability to score crucial goals, this is likely going to be the experienced campaigner’s last World Cup and he would like to end it on a high.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 17:31 IST