2018 World Cup Team Preview – Australia

This week,

Tim Cahill poses for a picture with his family and the Australian flag
Tim Cahill punches a flag stick
And Tim Cahill channels his inner Chris Webber

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.

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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.

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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?

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Schedule

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

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Prognosis

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.

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Predicción

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.

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Vital Statistics

Ms. Universe:

Here are the ladies that fought (not literally) for the Miss Australia title.  I have no idea how the judges chose a winner.

National Dish:

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…

ballsofsteelandfury

ballsofsteelandfury

International Member of the Geelong Cats and recovering Steelers fan. Likes Butts. And Balls. And Boobs. Pretty much anything that starts with the letter B. Preferably together.
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Rikki-Tikki-DeadlyGame Time DecisionballsofsteelandfuryWakezillaDon T Recent comment authors
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Game Time Decision

Is there going to be a DFO world cup pool?

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Ooh, I like this idea!

Wakezilla

Another good preview. I agree with both your assessments that they will likely finish 4th, but given the pressure France is under, playing them first makes Les Frogs ripe for an upset. Though I think this is the weakest Australian world cup team in the 21st century, which means it probably won’t happen.

One caveat: “France is the reigning European Champion”

They were the runner up to Portugal.

Don T

I’ll settle for an Aussie knocking a coupla teeth off Olivier Giroud. Jesus Christ that guy.

Wakezilla

I think the Peruvians will be punching him in the balls to make up for their tiny, but adorable stature.

litre_cola

litre_cola

Stupid balls confusing me with the picture.
Aussie love their futbol. When I lived there fights were a regular occurrence at lesser footy matches between ethnic groups that have immigrated there.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

That Aussie place is open from 11am-3pm. Doesn’t anyone here have jobs?

BrettFavresColonoscopy

If I had been running this program when they sucked, I would have just put a team of ruggers and footy players out there to fuck up as many other countries as possible.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

I’ve generally defined things as “birthplace” but Russia went to press before I started doing this, so I’ll leave this here. Australia/Russia happened one night at The Spot when my regular girlfriend and I were on a break (she was the manager of the hostel part; I managed the bar) and I was staying in my own separate room inside the main house (this will be relevant when we get to Germany’s preview). She was born in Russia (St. Petersburg, I think), but her family had emigrated to Australia when she was very young and she had absorbed both their accent and, ahem, social nature. We hooked up one night and the following day we were both headed to Durban, so I gave her a ride. On the way up she kept pestering me about staying with her in town until I finally got tired of telling her white lies and spilled that the reason I was headed up to Durban was because I had a date with another girl (that I’d started making out with while on three tabs of ecstasy at a trance party the week before – it was very much of a cuddle puddle scenario and for the first minute I had my eyes closed so for all I knew it could have been a guy). She expressed her disapproval. The car ride was pretty quiet after that.

King Hippo

Evertonians love Tim Cahill, and his penchant for cheap-ass goals. He’s like the white, old version of Oumar Niasse. “Niasse! Niasse! He scores ’em with his ass!!”