Team Profile: Australia
- Coach: Pim Verbeek
- Goalkeepers: Adam Federici (Reading/England), Brad Jones (Middlesbrough/England), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham /England)
- Defenders: Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart), David Carney (Twente/Netherlands), Scott Chipperfield (Basel/Switzerland), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Craig Moore (no club), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray/Turkey), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow/Russia)
- Midfielders: Mark Bresciano (Palermo/Italy), Tim Cahill (Everton/England), Jason Culina (Gold Coast), Brett Emerton (Blackburn/England), Richard Garcia (Hull/England), Vince Grella (Blackburn/England), Brett Holman (Alkmaar/Metherlands), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor/Turkey), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo/Italy), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg/Germany)
- Forwards: Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus/Japan), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray/Turkey), Nikita Rukavytsya (Twente/Netherlands)
Style of play: Don't be fooled by coach Pim Verbeek's 4-2-3-1 formation. Packing five players in midfield and only going with one striker may appear on paper to be overly cautious, but in practice it's a vibrant, attacking setup. Jason Culina and Vince Grella hold down the fort in the centre of midfield, acting as the first line of defence, while the trident of attacking midfielders in front of them - Tim Cahill, Harry Kewel, and Mark Bresciano - work in tandem, pressing forward and driving into the box to score, or feeding the ball to forward Joshua Kennedy. Oftentimes, Cahill will operate in the hole just behind Kennedy, serving as the focal point of the attack. The Aussies will also make good use of their speed on the counterattack and of their height and size on set pieces.
1st round matches:
- June 13 vs. Germany in Durban
- June 19 vs. Ghana in Rustenburg
- June 23 vs. Serbia in Nelspruit
Projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1): GK) Mark Schwarzer - (D) Lucas Neill, Craig Moore, Scott Chipperfield, Brett Emerton - (M) Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Harry Kewel, Vince Grella, Mark Bresciano - (F) Joshua Kennedy
- Experience: The bulk of the team that competed at the 2006 World Cup, with the exclusion of Mark Viduka, is still around, which means this is an Australian side that isn't lacking international experience.
- Confidence: Australia is riding high after enjoy a near-flawless qualifying campaign that saw them win nine games and barely get into trouble.
- Defence: The Socceroos gave up only four goals in 14 qualifying games, and recorded an amazing 10 shutouts. Opponents will have a hard time breaking them down in South Africa.
- No quality forwards: With Mark Viduka retired, Australia has lost the services of one of its greatest forwards. Who can fill his shoes in Verbeek's 4-2-3-1 formation? Joshua Kennedy and Scott McDonald have been heralded as his successor, but neither one is a top-class forward, leaving Australia with serious problems up front.
- Tough group: FIFA did Australia few favours by drawing them into a difficult first-round group that includes three-time winners Germany, a tough Serbian side, and Ghana, arguably the best African team at the tournament. Australia will have to fight for every point it earns.
- The Verbeek factor: Coach Pim Verbeek made two public mistakes in the buildup to the tournament. First, he announced his plans to step down as coach of Australia after the tournament. Second, he stated that Australia has no chance of winning the World Cup. How much will these two facts weigh on the minds of Australia's players when they take to the field?
Players to watch:
- Tim Cahill - The Everton star is a physical midfielder who is willing to get stuck in with opposing defenders and use every part of his body to score a goal. Noted for his powerful headers, Cahill is a talented player who can score picturesque strikes as well as gritty goals.
- Brett Emerton - The Australian midfielder annoys attackers with his bulky frame but he also has the legs to move from one end of the field to the other in order to join the attack.
- Mark Schwarzer - A talented shot-stopper, Schwarzer is the picture of confidence between the posts, making athletic saves look remarkably easy and effectively organizing his defenders in front of him.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Veteran winger/forward Harry Kewell was named to the squad, despite playing only a handful of games for his pro club, Turkish outfit Galatasaray, since undergoing groin surgery in January. He recently aggravated the injury, raising serious questions about this fitness. Mark Bresciano, another team veteran, is battling back problems. Striker Archie Thompson (knee) and midfielder Patrick Kisnorbo (Achilles tendon) were ruled out due to injury. Goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic did not make the final roster. Other players not selected include Mile Sterjovski, who featured in many of Australia's qualifiers; fellow midfielder Jacob Burns, Tommy Oar and James Holland; and defenders Chris Coyne, Simon Colosimo, Shane Lowry and Rhys Williams.
Prognosis: First-round exit. Australia breezed through the Asian qualifiers without breaking a sweat, but they will find the going much tougher in South Africa, where the calibre of their first-round opponents is much higher. Piling up wins against Qatar, Uzbekistan and Bahrain is one thing - earning victories against the likes of Germany and Serbia is quite another. Without a quality striker to bang in the goals, a third-place finish in Group D would be a big accomplishment for the Aussies.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #20
- Qualification route: In the third round of the Asian qualifiers, Australia won Group 1 ahead of Qatar (both teams were tied on 10 points). In the final round, Australia won Group 1 (20 points) ahead of Japan (15 points)
- Key to qualification: In a word, defence. Australia gave up just one goal in the final qualifying round, thanks in large part to the outstanding form of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and a sturdy back line anchored by Everton centre back Lucas Neill.
- Crucial result: A 0-0 tie with Qatar (June 6, 2009 in Doha) allowed Australia to officially clinch a World Cup berth with two games remaining in the final round of the Asian qualifiers.
- Qualifying record: 14 games played, 9 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses
- Goals for: 19
- Goals against: 4
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Bret Emerton and Tim Cahill (4)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- Feb. 6, 2008 - Australia 3, Qatar 0
- March 26, 2008 - China 0, Australia 0
- June 1, 2008 - Australia 1, Iraq 0
- June 7, 2008 - Iraq 1, Australia 0
- June 14, 2008 - Qatar 1, Australia 3
- June 22, 2008 - Australia 0, China 1
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Uzbekistan 0, Australia 1
- Oct. 15, 2008 - Australia 4, Qatar 0
- Nov. 19, 2008 - Bahrain 0, Australia 1
- Feb. 11, 2009 - Japan 0, Australia 0
- April 1, 2009 - Australia 2, Uzbekistan 0
- June 6, 2009 - Qatar 0, Australia 0
- June 10, 2009 - Australia 2, Bahrain 0
- June 17, 2009 - Australia 2, Japan 1
- Number of World Cup appearances: 2
- All-time record: 7 games played, 1 win, 2 draws, 4 losses
- Goals for: 5
- Goals against: 11
- Biggest victory: 3-1 vs. Japan in 2006
- Biggest defeat: 3-0 vs. West Germany in 1974
- Top scorer: Tim Cahill (2 goals)
- Most appearances: Several players (4 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: Never
World Cup track record
- 1930 to 1962 - Did not enter
- 1966 - Did not qualify
- 1970 - Did not qualify
- 1974 - First Round
- 1978 to 2002 - Did not qualify
- 2006 - Second Round
- FIFA member since: 1963
- Team nickname: Socceroos
- All-time caps leader: Alex Tobin (87)
- All-time leading scorer: Damian Mori (29)
- Oceania Nations Cup champions: 1980, 1996, 2000, 2004
- Johnny Warren: Warren was a key figure in the Australian team that qualified for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. A midfielder who played 62 times for his country, Warren is known as the face of Australian soccer thanks to his successful career as a television broadcaster.
- Damian Mori: A speedy, goal-poaching forward who is Australia's all-time leading scorer with 29 goals in 45 games from 1992-2002. Mori played his entire pro career in Australia, except for a single season with Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Bundesliga in 1997. Voted Australian player of the year in 1996 and 2003.