Welcome to Balls of Steel’s
AFL Beat Australian World Cup Preview!
I put Tim Cahill pics up because the story of successful Australian fútbol in the last few years is the story of one Timothy Filiga Cahill. He is Australia’s highest goal scorer of all time and has led the team to four straight World Cup appearances since joining the squad in 2004. Yes, he’s 38.
The Australian National Team in the 20th century was not a power by any stretch of the imagination. Despite (or perhaps due to) belonging to the tiny and relatively weak Oceania Football Confederation, their only World Cup appearance in the 1900s was in Germany 74 where they did not score a single goal but at least managed a 0-0 tie against Chile to secure their first World Cup point.
Things changed drastically, however, in 2003. Frustration over the failure to qualify for the 2002 South Korea/Japan World Cup, which would have been the closest World Cup geographically to Australia, boiled over and numerous changes took place:
- Amid allegations of fraud and corruption by the Australian soccer governing body, Soccer Australia, the Australian government threatened to withdraw funding
- Australia Soccer Association replaced Soccer America, which had been liquidated, and all parties with an interest in Soccer Australia were disenfranchised.
- The Australia Soccer Association renamed itself Football Federation Australia to distance itself from the old failings and to try to align itself to the greater football world.
- The A-League replaced the National Soccer League in 2004 with a franchise structure similar to North American sports and no relegation/promotion.
- In 2006, Australia switched from the Oceania Football Conferederation (OFC) to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in an effort to get A-League teams into the Asian Champions League and improve the quality of play.
All of this had the desired effect and Australian football began to rise. While still in the OFC, Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and made it out of the group. Tim Cahill scored the first two goals in Australian World Cup history in a 3-1 victory over Japan. After a respectable 0-2 loss to Brazil and a more than respectable 2-2 tie against Croatia, Australia took second in the group and faced Italy in the knockout stage. Only a penalty kick in the fifth minute of added time at the end of the game by Italy’s Francesco Totti knocked them out.
A similar one win, one loss, one tie performance in South Africa 2010 was, unfortunately, not enough to get out of the group as Ghana edged Australia out on goal difference.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was not as successful as they were in a group with Spain, Netherlands, and Chile, but Tim Cahill scored two out of Australia’s three goals in the tournament and is one of only 7 players to score at the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups.
Tim Cahill was named to the preliminary World Cup squad in May even though he is 38 and doesn’t really play club fútbol regularly. If he makes it to the World Cup, it will be his retirement party.
What of the rest of the team, though? There is a healthy mix of players from the A-League as well as European and Asian club teams. The current coach, Bert Van Marwijk, was appointed after previous coach, Ange Postecoglou, qualified the team for the World Cup and resigned. Graham Arnold has been named as the coach starting immediately after the World Cup until the 2022 World Cup. So, in essence, the current coach has nothing to worry about and can do whatever he wants. He’s gone after the World Cup anyway. That’s intriguing.
The team’s recent form is decent with a few notable ties against good teams as the highlight. They have lost to the other good teams and won against lesser teams. What does that spell?
16 JUN 2018 – 13:00 Local time, 03:00 Pacific, Kasan Arean, Kasan
FRANCE v AUSTRALIA
21 JUN 2018 – 16:00 Local time, 05:00 Pacific, Samara Arena, Samara
DENMARK v AUSTRALIA
26 JUN 2018 – 17:00 Local time, 07:00 Pacific, Fisht Stadium, Sochi
AUSTRALIA v PERU
For the second straight World Cup, Australia has been drawn into a very difficult group. France
is the reigning European Champion lost the final of the last European Championship, which it hosted. Peru and Denmark are both strong above-the-middle-of-the-pack countries in South American and European qualifying. It’s not like Australia is a long shot to win a game, but it won’t be easy.
The first game is the most difficult with a tie being the best realistic case scenario. The other two games come out to wins as the best cases, ties as the most realistic, and losses as the worst. Maybe Australia can win one, but it seems a bit of a stretch to predict which game it will be. A lot will ride on the results of the other group games.
The Wild Card Bitches, though, is that the coach is in full IDGAF mode. He only has a contract for this World Cup, so he can do anything. I think he’ll have the Australians primed for an upset of the French in the first game. If they pull that off, qualification to the knockout round becomes a lot more probable.
If there is one team that can surprise, it is Australia. Any result from three straight losses to three straight wins is possible. I say they split the difference and manage a loss and two ties. Where is my Shirley Bassey/Propellerheads collabouration?
It won’t be good enough to get out of the group. Call it 4th.
Here are the ladies that fought (not literally) for the Miss Australia title. I have no idea how the judges chose a winner.
There is nothing more Australian than the meat pie. It can come in many different forms, but the original is the simple pie with ground beef and spices inside a delicious pastry shell.
The AFL players can explain it better than me:
BTW, if you’re ever in LA, I HIGHLY recommend visiting Bronzed Aussi in DTLA. It’s on Los Angeles St. close to the Fashion District. Parking is a bitch and the place is hard to find because it’s in an alley, but it’s fucking worth it! Just like most things in LA…
Their meat pies are amazing…