Fri, 18 Nov 2022 03:21 PM IST
Australia made their debut in 1974 and has appeared in five World Cups in total, including the last four. Their best performance was 2006, when they lost to Italy in the last 16 courtesy of a controversial late penalty. In the last three World Cups, they have failed to progress from the group stage and registered only one win, against Serbia in 2010.
FIFA Ranking: 38 (Oct. 6)
How they qualified:
Having romped through the second round of Asian qualifying, Australia were only able to finish third in their group in the third round. They beat the United Arab Emirates 2-1 to qualify for an intercontinental playoff against Peru. After a 0-0 draw, the Socceroos punched their ticket to Qatar 5-4 on penalties.
Since securing qualification in June, Australia has played two matches, both against New Zealand. After an unconvincing 1-0 win in Melbourne, an experimental side recorded a more impressive 2-0 victory in Auckland.
Players to watch out for:
Boyle made an instant impression, scoring two goals and laying on another in his first start to upstage Tim Cahill on the Aussie legend’s 108th and final international appearance. Boyle has continued to impress in the time since, contributing goals and assists and stretching opponents’ defences with his blistering pace./That speed will be one of Arnold’s most potent offensive weapons in Qatar and, with Australia sure to be on the back foot at times, is sure to be central to any counter-attacking strategy. With the 29-year-old back at Hibernian and back among the goals after a spell in Saudi Arabia, he should arrive confident and ready to make his mark at this, his first World Cup.
Hrustic is elegant and confident on the ball, his ability to both score and create established the Verona playmaker as the breakout star of the Socceroos’ Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign.The 26-year-old is one of precious few Australia players operating in one of Europe’s so-called big five leagues, having recently swapped Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga for Serie A’s Verona. The trajectory of his club career has matched his international fortunes, and last season he was one of the penalty-scoring heroes as Eintracht won their first European trophy in over four decades.
Mabil’s mere presence at this World Cup is inspiring. This, after all, is a young man who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp after his parents fled conflict in Sudan, and who survived as a child on one meal a day, playing barefoot with a rolled-up sock as his football. The skills learned in those awful conditions shone brightly when Australia took in Mabil’s family in 2006. His rise since has been the stuff of fairy tales, and the connection to his adopted country was reaffirmed when he slotted home the sixth penalty in the shootout win over Peru that secured the Socceroos’ World Cup spot.
Aaron arrived in Doha having not played a competitive game in four months, with his only preparation some individual sessions with Australia’s former strength and conditioning coach. But while this might have pointed to a substitute’s role, and Mooy bringing his experience in the latter stages, he ended up starting and seeing out both matches, playing all 120 minutes against Peru before stepping up to slot home a penalty. “What that kid did is just amazing,” said an admiring Arnold afterwards.
Mat shone especially brightly during a four-year spell with English Premier League side Brighton, and while a loan move to Arsenal and permanent switch to Real Sociedad didn’t yield much in the way of playing time, Ryan’s recent move to Danish champions FC Copenhagen should provide him with the necessary pre-tournament match practice. His place for Australia should be assured either way, with Arnold having lauded him as “a fantastic goalkeeper”. Ryan himself has spoken of “wanting to shock the world and show that we can match it with the best out there” in Qatar. If Australia are to do that, some big performances from their skipper are sure to be required.