Road to the 2018 World Cup
The Socceroos had to go a very long way to get to the 2018 World Cup. In the Asian qualifies they finished third in the group with Japan and Saudi Arabia ahead of them, so they had to win two more games to reach the World Cup. In the first game Angelos Postecoglou’s squad had to fight hard to beat Syria, which they did in extra-time thanks to Tim Cahill’s game-winning goal. In the second match they beat Honduras 3-1 at home and qualified for the World Cup for the fifth time.
Midfielder Mile Jedinak scored a game-winning hat-trick. When the need arose, Australia’s captain turned out to be an effective striker, though two other goals he stroke from the penalty spot. This experienced 33-year-old footballer has been playing in England for several years and right now he is trying to return to the Premier League with the Aston Villa FC.
Tim Cahill is even older than Jedinak. This forward played for Everton for 8 years and he is still remembered warmly in Liverpool. Right now Tim is playing for Australia’s Melbourne City. He is also an indispensable player for his national team and has become the team’s best scorer with 50 goals. Two last goals he scored in a crucial return match with Syria. This coming tournament in Russia could become Tim’s forth World Cup.
There are other Australian footballers who are also well-known in Europe. Many of them play in England. For example, team’s main goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was recently bought by Brighton – a Premier League newcomer – from Spain’s Valencia and straight away secured a spot in the starting line-up.
27-year-old Aaron Mooy plays for Huddersfield Town, which also reached Premier League only recently, and is an indispensable midfielder. Massimo Luongo, one of the most talented Australian footballers, plays for Championship club Queens Park Rangers after he failed to impress in Tottenham and is trying to return to Premier League.
As for winger Mathew Leckie, he has been playing for Germany’s clubs for several years now. In the summer of 2017 he transferred to Hertha BSC.
Angelos Postecoglou was appointed Australia manager back in 2013. He took the Socceroos to the 2014 World Cup where his team failed to impress, yet the next year he won the Asian Cup. Despite this fact, Postecoglou is largely unknown outside Australia. In 2008, he tried working with Greece’s Panachaiki but did not stay long in his historic home country. Prior to managing the senior team, Postecoglou managed the Australia youth team, three times qualifying for the Youth World Cup.
As we mentioned, the upcoming World Cup in Russia will be the fifth one for Australia. The first time was in 1974. At the time, all the players on the squad were playing in Australia, and the team could not realistically expect to advance to the knockout stage. They lost to East Germany (2-0) and West Germany (3-0) and drew with Chile (0-0).
The next time was in 2006, and by that time Guus Hiddink had a solid team. In the group stage, Australia beat Japan 3-1, drew with Croatia and lost to Brazil. Four points proved enough to advance to the next stage. In the Round of 16, Hiddink’s team played well against the future winners Italy and only lost due to the controversial penalty kick that Francesco Totti converted in the 95th minute.
Australia traveled to the World Cup again in 2010 and 2014, after it was moved to the Asian qualification zone, but failed to advance beyond the group stage. In South Africa, the Socceroos had as many points as Ghana but were behind the African team on other parameters. In Brazil, Australia lost all three games.