2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Australia
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Australia.
Australia qualified for the 2022 World Cup courtesy of one of the biggest upsets in qualifying during the inter-confederation playoffs. After advancing to the fourth round of AFC qualifying and beating the UAE 2-1, Australia had a date with Peru. Peru had been playing well and the “Socceroos” had not, but the match went to penalties and Australia won 5-4 in the shootout despite missing their first shot.
This was the second straight time that Australia needed a playoff win to get to the World Cup, and they will be hoping to not have a repeat of what happened four years ago when they went winless. They are currently ranked No. 38 in the FIFA men’s rankings but will need another upset to get out of Group D.
World Cup Appearances
Australia was not even a member of FIFA until the 1966 World Cup and did not qualify for its first World Cup until 1974. Following a winless group stage exit in 1974, it took 32 years for them to reemerge on the world’s biggest stage. Since making it in 2006, the “Socceroos” have not missed a World Cup and will be partaking in their sixth in Qatar.
Best Finish at a World Cup
Australia has not had much success in their five previous World Cups having won just twice in 16 matches. The best finish for them was in 2006 when they finished second in Group F behind Brazil to advance to the Round of 16. In the team’s Round of 16 match, it took a stoppage-time penalty from Francesco Totti to send Italy through and send the Aussies packing. Italy ended up winning the entire 2006 World Cup.
For the first time since 1974, Australia will not be in the World Cup with Tim Cahill playing. The all-time leading goalscorer for the “Socceroos” retired from international play following the 2018 World Cup. With Cahill’s departure, the most senior player for Australia is the captain and goalkeeper Mathew Ryan who has made 75 appearances.
The players that will likely take over the scoring are Awer Mabil of Cadiz, Jamie Maclaren, and Mathew Leckie both of Melbourne City. Another player to keep an eye on in Qatar will be Aaron Mooy and his luscious head of hair even though he may be slightly past his prime and have no hair at all.
After winning back-to-back A-League titles as the manager of Sydney FC in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Graham Arnold was hired to be the manager of the “Socceroos.” He had formerly been an assistant coach and caretaker of Australia from 2000 to 2010 and his return came after an unsuccessful 2018 World Cup for the Aussies. Since taking over from Bert van Marwijk, Arnold has guided them to a 23-4-6 record.
Biggest Group Game – vs. Tunisia on Nov. 26
If Australia wants to get out of Group D, then they must win against Tunisia. The “Socceroos” do not have much chance against France but could steal a point against Denmark which could be enough to advance with three points against Tunisia. These two have only played each other twice before with both matches being a shutout — a 3-0 win for Australia in 1997 and a 2-0 win for Tunisia in 2005.
Australia will have a chance to beat Tunisia, but the “Socceroos” will be completely outmatched by both France and Denmark. If they can get four points and hope Denmark or France falter, then we could see Australia move on to the knockout stage. However, I do not see that happening and their 2022 FIFA World Cup will come to an end in the group stage for a fourth consecutive time.
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