FIFA World Cup Prospectus: Australia
Football.com will countdown the remaining time leading up to the World Cup with a 32-day preview of each team that will be participating. For those of you who want to know each team inside and out, the 32-Day 2014 FIFA World Cup Prospectus is the World Cup preview.
Group D: Uruguay
Group G: United States
The team from the land down under looks to make an impact in this World Cup. After a short appearance history and a set of early exits, Australia is going to try to change all of that this year.
FIFA Ranking: 59
World Cup Appearances: 1974, 2006, 2010
How Did They Qualify: Won AFC Group B
What Group Are They In: Group B
Opponents (Match Dates): Chile (6/13) Netherlands (6/18) Spain (6/23)
Projected Finish In Group H: 4th
Why They Will Finish 4th In Group B:
Australia got placed in a strong group with cup favorites Spain and two strong teams in the Netherlands and Chile. From what I have seen of the Socceroos, nothing is remotely impressive minus 34-year-old Tim Cahill, who is still playing at a high level. I think this will be a wash-out for Australia and foresee their coach getting sacked shortly after.
Keeper: This has got to be one of the most inexperienced groups I have ever seen in a World Cup. Eugene Galeković and 22-year-old Mathew Ryan share a total of 14 caps between them. These are not two random keepers, these are the two with the most caps. Having one of these keepers starting will be as disastrous. In fact, looking at this group brings this picture to mind.
Defense: This group has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Let's be honest, Spain and the Netherlands should slash through this group. Only longtime national Luke Wilkshire holds any significant experience. The rest of this group is very young and had problems against an underpowered South Africa squad.
In fact, the Socceroos defense is about as tough as butter. Spain should already be chalked up as a loss. When making your World Cup selections you need to ask yourself one thing, “Is this going to be a defensive battle?” If the answer is yes, don't bet on the Socceroos.
Midfield: The youth and inexperience travels into the midfield. Mile Jedinak and Mark Bresciano offer stability. Outside of that are some young dynamic players. Well, not quite dynamic. In the match against South Africa, they looked awkward on offense. This group does a great job stalling the midfield against low-level teams. It remains to be seen how they do against high-level squads. The match against Chile should give that answer and will likely be the best chance for this young group to make an impact.
Forwards: We now get to the strongest point of the team, the attackers. Veteran and legend Tim Cahill leads this group. Cahill and Joshua Kennedy form a viable team of attackers that can keep Australia at least semi-competitive. Although this attack looked lethargic against South Africa, it is possible there are just chemistry issues.
Cahill is the biggest asset to this squad. The 34-year-old New York Red Bulls midfielder is a very dangerous player. It's only a matter of time before he slips away for a second and goes airborne (like this). Despite his age, he still is a chore for opposing defenses. Of course, he is the only really reliable attacker available.
Coaching: Where most squads have an experienced coach, the Socceroos do not. Recently, Ange Postecoglou was appointed as head coach of the senior squad. Before his appointment, his only national experience is seven years with the Australia U-20 squad. This lack of experience is a bit worrisome and if he doesn't do well, it'll be interesting to see if he remains for the remaining four years of his contract.
On the bright side, Ange is Australia's most winning club coach. If he translates that leadership ability to this squad, they might have a chance to improve before their first game. Postecoglou may be in a make or break situation a year into his contract with a young squad. Not a pretty picture.
How can they win the World Cup:
Lets be honest, the only way they are winning is if Tim Cahill scores a brace every game and their defense pulls a miracle in shutting down teams over 40 spots above them.
What can go wrong:
There is a distinct chance that the Socceroos don't score a single goal. Australia looks weak on paper and their recent performances are not inspiring. Spain and the Netherlands should have their way against this squad. Maybe, just maybe, they will score against Chile. Maybe after a little more experience this group can form a dangerous squad, but not this year.
Green and yellow make their return and I'm starting to become convinced that only the Green Bay Packers of the NFL can pull off the combo. I think they would look better if the tops were green as opposed to the sunshine yellow. On a positive note, these uniforms are so bright you can't possibly miss them. Who knows, maybe it's a tactical thing. Nothing makes passing easier than kicking to the bright yellow spot in your vision.
What's there to like about the Australia:
Let's ignore the fact that Australia has all seven of the world's deadliest snakes and try to focus on the positives. Australia has beautiful scenery and is a great place to go surfing. Also, if you are an outdoors person than you can hike in some of the most beautiful scenery around.
This is how Australian author Rebecca Nolan summed it up for me, “Honestly, we have some of the warmest weather around. It is late autumn and we can still swim in Queensland. Our beaches are some of the best in the world and just 30 mins from them you can be hiking through amazing rain forests spotting some of the most incredible creatures god ever made.”