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manor15

Super Moderator
Staff member
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Messages
8,146
Australia

Manager: Pim Verbeek
Captain: Lucas Neill
FIFA Ranking: 20
Group D

Background: The Socceroos head to South Africa for their third World Cup, after failing to progress past the group stage in 1974 but returning 32 years later in Germany last time round. Thanks to a 3-1 victory over Japan, despite having to come back from 0-1 down, the Australians secured qualification to the first knockout round of the World Cup finals for the very first time, however, the Yellows were unlucky to face eventual victors Italy, who only just scraped through thanks to a late, late Francesco Totti penalty.

Qualification: A strong qualifying campaign in a complicated system saw Australia top both of their groups; fending off the likes of Japan, China and Iraq, losing just once in fourteen games, a 1-0 defeat to China. The Australians conceded just four goals and proved a force to be reckoned with in Asian and Oceanian football. Although they proved strong enough to qualify, the Australians scored just twelve in qualification, with most of their wins being, albeit convincing, 1-0 victories.

The Team
Strengths: The Socceroos kept ten clean sheets in qualifying, conceding only one per game in the other four games. This defensive record is in no part thanks to the experience of the backline, including Mark Schwarzer in goal, Lucas Neill and Craig Moore at centre-back make a combined age of 103 and three World Cups between them, and a solid defensive line. Two holding midfielders in Jason Culina and Vinnie Grella also help to keep a tight back line.
Weaknesses: Placed in a weak group, playing the likes of Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, the Australian managed to score just twelve goals in fourteen games. Middlesborough striker Scott McDonald has got fifteen caps and no international goals to his name and first choice striker Josh Kennedy has scored just six in eighteen and now plays in Japan, he is also better suited to coming on as an impact sub; something Australia lack with him in the starting XI.
The Manager: Pim Verbeek is currently in his thirteenth job in 30 years, and South Africa will be his third consecutive World Cup finals after going to 2002 as South Korea's assistant manager and returning with Dick Advocaat in 2006. When he was appointed in December 2007 the decision was questioned by fans and the media alike but he has since silenced such criticisms and is now actually quite popular and a good World Cup campaign could only help the Dutchman.

Star Men: Tommy Oar (Brisbane Roar/FC Utrecht)
18 year old left winger, who will complete a transfer from Australian side Brisbane Roar to Dutch side FC Utrecht. Hailed as a future superstar by many, the quick left winger has bags of pace and skill, which are more likely to come out on show as a sub in South Africa. He currently holds just one cap but he has a record of good second appearances, scoring a 91st minute, match winning free-kick for Brisbane Roar in his second game and Australian fans will hope for similar displays of skill in South Africa.
Tim Cahill (Everton)
The attacking Everton central midfielder was Australia's first ever World Cup goalscorer in 2006 and remains their strongest attacking threat. A good headerer of the ball with plenty of skill and good dribbling abilities, the Australian, who could have qualified to play for England, is one of Australia's most consistent players and is also one of the most popular. The only question over his World Cup will be whether Verbeek attempts to use him as a striker, where he is less effective, as he has in recent times.

manor15's Prediction
Group Stages. While many expect Ghana and Serbia to be dark horses this summer, the Australians have the skill, power and experience to put up a fight, although their lack of goals could prove their downfall, particularly against the likes of Serbia. It's unlikely that the Aussies will let many in but could struggle against quicker, more skillful strikers, such as Klose, Zigic and the rest although the Australians also have enough ability alongside the experience on the big stage from the likes of Cahill, Schwarzer, Kewell and Neill to get out of the group should things go their way.
 
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