Australia (aka Socceroos) are team 19 with a FIFA ranking of 21 in the World. Two previous World Cup appearances with their best result being the round of 16. First qualified to Germany ’74, then it took Australia 32 years to once again qualify to the World Cup in Germany 2006.
Australia qualified for South Africa without any real challenge, as they were able to make the Asian qualification look third rate. Australia qualified with their “B” team and never looked troubled. With such a simple qualification campaign their preparation is not what it should have or could have been.
Australia also missed out on the greatest marketing campaign known to Australian football or sport by running away to Asia and missing out on playing Uruguay in a playoff to South Africa.
Summary of the last playoffs between Uruguay and Australia.
Uruguay did their part and got the magical 5th spot in CONMEBOL to qualify for a playoff. Uruguay played Australia in a playoff for Korea/Japan 2002 and beat Australia 3-1 on aggregate with a 1-0 loss in Melbourne and a 3-0 win in Montevideo.
Uruguay did their part again and got the 5th spot to qualify for the playoff for Germany 2006. Uruguay played Australia and after the aggregate finished 1-1 with no away goals, Uruguay winning 1-0 in Montevideo and Australia winning 1-0 in Sydney. After extra time and with no change on the scoreboard, penalties were going to decide it. Uruguay lost the penalty shootout and Australia qualified to Germany 2006.
With the series drawn at 1-1 (Uruguay 2002 and Australia 2006), the opportunity was there for a decider. Uruguay once again qualified for the playoff by coming 5th in CONMEBOL (South Africa 2010), however when we went looking for Australia we found they were hiding in the Asian Conference and instead Uruguay had to play the 4th from CONCACAF (Costa Rica).
Can you imagine the marketing campaign that could have been organised, the games would have had an intensity that Australia has only seen twice with the playoffs in 2001 and 2005. I believe it would have made more of an impact on football in Australia then actually qualifying for the World Cup.
Now the pressure in on Australia to repeat their performance from 2006 where they got knocked out of the World Cup by the cheating Italians with the Grosso dive, which led to the Totti penalty to win it. We will never know who would have won the series and qualified to the World Cup, we will never see this type of game again in Australia as no Asian team could replicate it.
Australia are in Group D with Germany, Serbia and Ghana. Guss Hidink is no longer the coach and with his disappearance, and Australia’s disappearance from Oceania to Asia, so to will Australia disappear from South Africa 2010 at the group stage.
My prediction: Out at Group Stage without scoring one goal (unless it’s an own goal)
A Great 2010 to Futbol Fans Everywhere