Australia
THE ROAD TO RUSSIA 2017

In 2015, Australia won their first-ever AFC Asian Cup. Turning around a group-stage loss to South Korea by defeating Kuwait and Oman, the Socceroos went on to beat China in the quarterfinal, thanks to two goals from Gary Cahill. Australia defeated the United Arab Emirates in the semifinal, booking a place in the final against South Korea. This time the Socceroos prevailed, winning in extra time.

STAR MAN

Even at 37 years old, Tim Cahill is still seen as one of Australia’s main players. He spent a large part of his career in England, where he was a key player for Everton. During the last few years, Cahill has played at clubs in the USA, China and Australia, and still remains the nation’s star attacking midfielder.

Cahill made his debut for the Australian national team in 2004. He’s played at three World Cup tournaments, and has scored 48 goals for his country. Interestingly, prior to 2004 Cahill was tied to Samoa, as the Samoan football federation had invited a 14-year-old Cahill to play at an Under-20s tournament. Only a rules change allowed him to switch to Australia.

COACH

Coach Angelos Postecoglou was born in Greece and arrived in Australia with his parents at the age of five. After a successful playing career spanning more than a decade, he moved on to management. He’s coached outside of Australia only once, for Greece’s Panachaiki FC. He became the Socceroos’ head coach in 2013, and while the team lost all three matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the following year he steered them to the AFC Asian Cup title.

EXPECTATIONS

The odds are against Australia making it beyond the group stage, all the more so considering the Confederations Cup is not the team’s primary concern – currently they are down in third place in their qualifying group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and are running the risk of not returning to Russia in a year’s time.