FIFA ranking: 40
How they qualified: Intercontinental play-off winners
World Cup appearances: 4
Best result: Round of 16 (2006)
This will be only Australia’s fifth World Cup appearance, but the fourth consecutive one for the Socceroos. Australia was the first nation to qualify for this summer’s World Cup after a long qualifying process. The Socceroos finished top of their second round AFC qualifying group, they then finished third of their third round group which meant a fourth round match against Syria which they won 3-2 on aggregate; and finally they met Honduras in the intercontinental play-off match which they won 3-1 over two legs to book their place in Russia.
Bert van Marwijk
Australia only appointed Bert van Marwijk in January of this year after Ange Postecoglou resigned in November 2017, after Australia already qualified for the World Cup. The Socceroos hope van Marwijk can bring them some success in Russia since the 65-year-old Dutch coach managed to reach the 2010 World Cup final with his home nation Netherlands and also helped Saudi Arabia reach the 2018 World Cup, ending their 12-year drought. He will however be replaced by Australian coach Graham Arnold after the World Cup.
The evergreen Socceroos talisman does not seem to slow down even at 38. Cahill finished third in the AFC qualifying top scorer chart with 11 goals and scored the vital winner in extra-time against Syria to reach the intercontinental play-off. Certainly, his last World Cup, Cahill can become one of the few players to score in four World Cups.
World Cup Chances
Drawn in a group that includes Euro 2016 finalists France, alongside Denmark and Peru, it certainly is not an impossible task for Australia to at least repeat their best ever finish by reaching the round of 16. France seem like certain group winners, but the second spot is all but open for the rest of the group to battle it out for. Denmark seem like the favourites to join France in the round of 16 but if the Australian midfield, that certainly does not lack talent in Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy, Celtic’s Tom Rogic or QPR’s Massimo Luongo just to name a few can help move the ball along for Tim Cahill to find the back of the net, then the Socceroos can be hopeful of even perhaps achieving their best ever World Cup finish.
25-year-old Massimo Luongo is playing perhaps the best football of his career after finally finding his feet at QPR after several loan spells and two seasons at League 1 strugglers Swindon Town. With four goals in his last six Championship starts for QPR and a commanding and creative display for Australia in their 0-0 with Colombia, a number of clubs are believed to be interested in snapping up the Australia man – with Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Malaga the clubs directly rumoured to be vying for his signature. Villa, who are heavily in contention for a return to the Premier League, via the play-offs, nearly signed Luongo from Swindon three years ago, and are likely to make a bid should they go up. Malaga, three points adrift at the bottom of the La Liga, made enquiries in January and are still keen, whilst Palace – situated close to Luongo’s home in South London – are also long-time admirers.