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Australia

Thirty-two years back, when the squad reached the World Cup finals in West Germany, they failed to strike a goal. In 2006, though the team has an impressive line-up but they need to beware of the Group's strongest team Brazil.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 19:17 IST
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FIFA world ranking 44
Coach Guus Hidink
Group F Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia
Previous appearances 1 (West Germany 1974)
Key player Harry Kewell
Odds 125/1

Australia will play in the World Cup for the second time in history. And for the second time they will be a part of the World Cup hosted by Germany.

In 1974, they could not score a single goal in West Germany. Thirty-two years later, they are confident enough to improve their record after getting past two-time World champions Uruguay in the play-offs.

Not that they lack experience of top-flight football. The Socceroos can boast seven players from the English Premiership, one in Italy, and one in Spain.

And the two stars for them are Liverpool winger Harry Kewell and Middlesborough striker Mark Viduka.

If these quality players will try their best on the field, a coach as accomplished as the Dutch Guus Hiddink will plan every move for the team to take it to the round of 16. Hidink inspired South Korea to reach a historic semifinal in 2002.

Australia is a good team, but they have to play really well in Group F in which their biggest threat is the World Champions Brazil.

The other teams in the group are Croatia and Japan. Hidink has a task at hand, but knowing his track record, you can be pretty sure that his team will not give up without a fight.

A recent poll in Australia revealed that the people in that country value the Ashes more than a good show in the World Cup. Come June, if the Kewells and Vidukas show their worth against the best, cricket will have a rival in Australia!

COMPLETE SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, Ante Covic, Zeljko Kalac

Midfeilders: Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Josip Skoko, Stan Lazaridis, Vince Grella, Scott Chipperfield, Luke Wilkshire, Mile Sterjovski, Marco Bresciano

Defenders: Lucas Neill, Craig Moore, Tony Popovic, Michael Beauchamp, Mark Milligan

Forwards: Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, John Aloisi, Archie Thompson, Joshua Kennedy.

First Published: May 06, 2006 18:39 IST