World Cup Class of 2018: Australia


Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo (right) will play a key role in the Socceroos 2018 World Cup run (photo credit: Matt Roberts/Getty Images AsiaPac-Zimbio)?

Population:  24.9 million
Capital:  Canberra
Official Language:  English
Team Colors:  Green and Gold
How Qualified:  Won Playoff vs. Honduras
Nickname:  Socceroos
5th World Cup
Head Coach:  Bert Van Marwijk (NED)
Key Players:  Tim Cahill (Millwall), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Matthew Leckie (Hertha Berlin)
Best Performance:  Second Round (2006)
We begin our string of World Cup previews Down Under with Australia. The Socceroos qualified with one coach (Ange Postecoglou), will have another coach during the World Cup (Bert Van Marwijk), and will have yet another one after the World Cup (Graham Arnold). 
This is the fourth successive World Cup for Australia, but they had to work harder to make this one. A poor away form in Final Group B meant a third-place finish and a playoff with Syria. The ageless Tim Cahill scored an equalizing goal against Syria in Sydney and got the match winner in the 109th minute to take Australia to a final playoff against Honduras. A Miles Jedinak hat trick in the second half sealed the Aussies’ ticket to Russia, but coach Ange Postecoglou later resigned and Bert Van Marwijk will take over for the World Cup with Graham Arnold taking over afterwards.
It was Postecoglou who took Australia to the 2014 World Cup, but this will be the third time in the last four World Cups that the Socceroos will have had a Dutch manager (Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek). 
Australia’s high point was their 2015 Asian Cup triumph in their home country over South Korea. However, they were unable to advance out of the group stage in the Confederations Cup last year. 
To get to the knockout stage this year will be a tough order with a hot French side, an always dangerous Danish side, and a Peruvian side looking to make a statement after finally qualifying for the first time in 32 years. 
It is expected that Tim Cahill will yet again be part of the setup for the Socceroos and it will up to players like Jedinak and Matthe Leckie of Hertha Berlin to come up with the offense. A trip to the second round would be a boost for this code in Australia as the various footballs are referred to. However, that appears unlikely given the group they are in. 
June 16:  vs. France in Kazan, (5am CT on FS1/Telemundo)
June 21:  vs. Denmark in Samara (7am CT on FS1/Telemundo)
June 26:  vs. Peru in Sochi (9am CT on FS1/Telemundo)


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