How they qualified
Having cruised to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with two games to spare, Australia entered their second qualifying campaign for the global showpiece since joining AFC targeting a second consecutive and smooth qualification. Instead, the road to Brazil 2014 proved to be a bumpy one for the Socceroos, who had to overcome some erratic form to secure their progression.
A narrow comeback win over Thailand and a loss to Oman in the opening stage served as a warning shot, although they ultimately progressed to the next phase as group winners. Then the Australians opened the next round in miserable fashion, drawing against Oman and Japan before losing to Jordan 2-1.
Though stunned, they rallied to claw back into contention with a victory over Iraq before two draws and a 4-0 defeat of Jordan put them on the cusp of qualification. They kept their cool in the final match of the round against Iraq as substitute Josh Kennedy scored late to seal their passage through. Coach Holger Osieck was dismissed in October 2013 after successive 6-0 defeats against Brazil and France, with former Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory and National Youth Teams coach Ange Postecoglou appointed.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Though a team made up entirely of amateurs secured a scoreless draw against Chile, Australia departed from the 1974 FIFA World Cup without a goal to show from their inaugural appearance. The Socceroos made up for lost time at Germany 2006 and qualified for the Round of 16 before narrowly falling to eventual champions Italy. The German theme continued at South Africa 2010 although this time Australia suffered a 4-0 loss against the European giants in a scoreline which ultimately scuppered their progress. A ten-man 1-1 draw against Ghana and a 2-1 win against Serbia saw the Aussies eliminated on goal difference, three goals off the Africans.
The key players
Tim Cahill remains the team’s undoubted star and talisman with a stunning goal ratio from midfield and equally remarkable heading ability despite his modest stature. Long-serving skipper and central defender Lucas Neill remains a bedrock of the team and has never let his country down regardless of domestic form. A two-goal showing at South Africa 2010 has seen Brett Holman’s profile and importance to the team take a sharp upward trajectory with the midfielder displaying versatility and an impressive short passing game.
Coach: Ange Postecoglou
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 (Round of 16), FIFA U-17 World Cup New Zealand 1999 (Runners-up)
Former stars: Johnny Warren, Mark Viduka, Scott Chipperfield