Having qualified after two rounds of play-offs against the UAE and Peru, Australia will face France and Denmark, who happened to also be in the same group as the Oceanians in the 2018 World Cup. And just like in Russia, Australia likely won’t have enough firepower to fend off these two teams and so, will probably go out in the group stage.
Australia managed to get past the group stage in 2006, in Germany. At the time, it took a penalty by Francesco Totti in stoppage time for Italy, future winners of the tournament, to finally knock Australia out of the tournament. This will be the 6th appearance in a World Cup for the Australians.
The World Cup qualification campaign:
Australia went crazy in the second round. 8 victories in as many matches, 10 points ahead of Kuwait and Jordan, 28 goals scored and 2 conceded. Nepal and Taiwan finished bottom. Then, Australia finished third in its group in the third round behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, but in front of Oman, China and Vietnam. In play-offs against the third-place team from the other group, Australia dominated the UAE (2-1) in the semi-finals. Then, the team dominated Peru (0-0, 5 penalties to 4) to qualify for another World Cup where it will play its first match, like in 2018, against France.
Australia doesn’t have any huge names in its team but has a lot of experience with quite a few over 30. In the context of the Asian zone, it’s a very good nation, capable of bringing home the Asian Cup in 2015. But in the World Cup, it’s a country that just isn’t quite at a high enough level to hope to go very far at this moment in time
Australia’s key players:
- Mathew Ryan (30 years old). The current Real Sociedad goalkeeper has played for some prestigious clubs, like Valencia and Arsen. He has plenty of experience in his squad. Indeed, he has played for his country for 10 years, and in more than seventy appearances.
- Tom Rogic (29 years old). This legend of Celtic, who he has been playing with since 2013 is one of the biggest Australian names in football, with more than 240 games played in Scotland and almost 50 caps with Australia.
- Jamie MacLaren (28 years old). The Melbourne attacker has some frightening statistics at a club level, with 73 goals in 92 matches in the Australian Championship. He is starting little by little to make his mark for the national team, with 8 goals in 24 matches, for an average of 1 goal every 3 games.