When the Socceroos left Oceania for Asia, things started to look up for soccer in Australia. With some improved World Cup performances and the 2015 Asian Cup under their belt, the move paid off. However, with trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand now in the mix, can the Aussies give one more shot to their former continent? If they make a run at FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, it’s all but assured.
FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 Preview: Australia
Introduction to the Article
The crew from Soccer 2 the MAX, Rachael McKriger, Erik Watkins and Sean Garmer divided the eight teams among themselves and have done previews for each squad ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 tournament. They give a little about of information on their history in the tournament. Their recent form, the manager and the squad. After that, they give a Player to Watch, a X-Factor, and discuss what could happen. Finally, they give their prediction on the team’s final place in the tournament. Hopefully, you enjoy our team preview articles.
FIFA Confederations Cup History
While Australia is not new to the tournament, this is the first time they compete as Asian champions. The three runs as kings of Oceania showed a steady decline. In 1997, they reached the final by drawing with Brazil and defeating Mexico to place second in their group. They defeated Uruguay in extra time, but lost 6-0 to Brazil in the final.
Australia finished third in 2001. They placed second in their group again after defeating Mexico and France. However, they lost to hosts Japan in the Semi-Finals. But won 1-0 against Brazil to achieve their final result.
Sadly, their final run in the Confederations Cup as Oceania champions was dismal. The Socceroos finished dead last in 2005. However, they fought back hard scoring three goals in a 4-3 loss to Germany and two goals against Argentina in a 4-2 loss. Australia was eliminated before even playing and subsequently losing 2-0 to Tunisia. The Socceroos make their first trip back to the Confederations Cup since then, and look to put on a much more winning performance.
Since September 2016, Australia have only lost once in nine games played. The lone loss happened in a Friendly that took place on June 13 against Brazil (4-0). However, they are unbeaten in World Cup qualifying, and currently sit third in their group. Posting four wins against Iraq, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates twice. While incurring four draws against the same Saudi Arabia and Iraq squads. As well as a 1-1 draw with current group leaders Japan and a 2-2 draw with Thailand. So, there’s no doubt Australia comes in riding high into the tournament.
The Manager: Ange Postecoglou
Ange Postecoglou is one of the most decorated managers in Australian soccer. If there’s one thing Postecoglou is known for, it’s winning. He did so playing Defender for the National Soccer League’s South Melbourne for nine years, winning the championship twice in 1984 and 1991. He also made 13 appearances for the Australia U-20 squad. While also making four appearances for the senior team.
Then, he actually went on to coach South Melbourne three years later and led them to two consecutive championships. Plus, a birth in the 2000 FIFA Club World Cup after winning the 1999 Oceania Club Championship. Postecoglou then spent seven years, as coach with the Australia U-17 and U-20 teams.
After that, he went back to Australia club soccer with the Brisbane Roar. There, he led them to back to back championships in 2010 and 2011. Finally, he went on to coach the Melbourne Victory and led them to a birth in the Grand Final, but lost 2-0. Shortly after, he signed a five year deal to coach the Australia senior national team.
After winning just two of his first 12 matches in charge (losing eight), Postecoglou quickly turned things around, losing just four matches since. While there is a lot of reliance on some more veteran strikers, Postecoglou makes the best with what he has, gambling for draws late when needed, but very rarely late winners. His teams do try to play an entertaining brand of soccer though.
Confederations Cup 2017 Team Roster
Goalkeepers – 1 Maty Ryan, 12 Mitch Langerak, 18 Danny Vukovic
Defenders – 20 Trent Sainsbury, 19 Ryan McGowan, 3 Alex Gersbach, 8 Bailey Wright, 16 Aziz Behich, 2 Milos Degenek, 6 Dylan McGowan
Midfielders – 5 Mark Milligan, 21 Massimo Luongo, 13 Aaron Mooy, 22 Jackson Irvine, 17 Ajdin Hrustic, 15 James Jeggo
Forwards – 4 Tim Cahill, 10 Robbie Kruse, 7 Mathew Leckie, 9 Tomi Juric, 11 Jamie Maclaren, 14 James Troisi, 23 Tommy Rogic
Player to Watch: Tommy Rogic
Tommy Rogic has made 25 appearances for the Australian national team since debuting in 2012. He’s scored six goals in those games as well. On a squad rife with forwards, Rogic is certainly one to watch. Especially since he plays for Celtic in Scottish Premier League. Rogic signed with Celtic in 2013 and made a key assist in his first appearance. However, after being loaned out to Australia in 2014, he suffered from a nagging groin injury that plagued him for much of the next two years.
Unfortunately, those injuries also forced him to miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup victory as well. Since making his return to the squad in 2015, Rogic has made at least 50 appearances, played in the team regularly and scored 15 goals. None more important than the late winner to nab Celtic the Scottish Cup on May 27 and complete the treble for that season. Although, Tim Cahill is surely the first choice striker for Australia. Rogic could prove to be a great partner for him up front.
X-Factor: Tim Cahill
With 96 caps and 48 goals, the Socceroos offensive hopes rest again on Tim Cahill. Coming back home to play for Melbourne City after spending time in the Premier League with Everton, the Chinese Super League, and Major League Soccer at the New York Redbulls. Quite frankly, Tim Cahill has been impressive everywhere he’s played. Cahill has also scored in every international tournament he’s played in, except for the 2007 Asian Cup. In fact, he’s one of only two players on the 23-man roster to score double-digit goals in their international career. While the team can score without him, having him put the ball in the back of the net, sure doesn’t hurt.
What Could Happen
Simply put, Australia could make the semifinals. In a group with Cameroon, Chile, and Germany, it’s a matter of three teams fighting for the two spots. That’s without Cameroon making noise. If they do qualify, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see the Socceroos make the final depending on who wins Group A. However, like Portugal, this is a team that needs to force the issue to secure three points when they have the chance. Three draws won’t be encouraging.
Australia begin their journey in the lone match on Monday, June 19 against World Cup champions Germany. After that, they face Cameroon on June 22. Finally, they end things against South American champs Chile on June 25. The match against Chile could determine a semifinal berth, and the defense won’t be up to the task of handling someone like Alexis Sanchez and containing their speed. Better than the 8th place finish last time around, but not good enough to get back to making the final four just yet. Again, if a couple bounces go their way, Australia could exceed expectations. But, for now, I see a last place finish in the group at best.
Erik’s Prediction: Last Place in Group B
Sean’s Prediction: Third Place in Group B. Rachael’s Prediction: Third Place in Group B.
THE MANAGER PHOTO:
PLAYER TO WATCH PHOTO: