Confederations Cup preview: Australia

Gareth Hunter Roar Rookie

By , Gareth Hunter is a Roar Rookie

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    Ten seconds, that’s all it took for Brazil to score their first of four goals against Australia in a friendly at the MCG.

    Luckily for Aussie fans, it was only a pre-Confederations Cup friendly. The Socceroos in all fairness were missing some of their star players such as captain Mile Jedinak, who is also ruled out of the Confederations Cup entirely to recover from a niggling groin injury.

    What is the Confederations Cup you ask?
    Each year before the World Cup, the host nation invites champions from each zone of the world and the current world Champions.

    The eight participants are as follows:
    Russia (Host Nation)
    Germany (2014 World Cup Winners)
    Australia (2015 Asian Cup Winners)
    Chile (2015 Copa America Winners)
    Mexico (2015 Concacaf Winners)
    New Zealand (2016 OFC Nations Cup Winners)
    Portugal (UEFA Euro 2016 Winners)
    Cameroon (2017 African Cup of Nations Winners)

    How is Australia’s schedule look?
    Unfortunately, Australia has drawn the bad end of the stick. In this tournament, there are only two groups of four. With the top two teams advancing straight to the knockout stage.

    Australia has to compete against reigning World Champs, Germany, in red-hot form, Chile, and get an easy break with out of form, Cameroon.

    The other group consists of the host nation and 63rd ranked, Russia, 95th world ranked New Zealand, 17th world ranked, Mexico and group favourite to win, eighth world ranked Portugal.

    So as you can see, Australia is in the much more competitive group.

    Mile Jedinak

    (Image: Fox Sports)

    This is how I see Australia’s schedule pan out:
    0-3 loss to Germany
    2-2 Draw with Cameroon
    1-4 loss to Chile
    It would not be a surprise if the Socceroos manage to defeat a dismal looking Cameroon side if players such as Aaron Mooy and Robbie Juric play at their absolute best.

    Where do I see Australia finishing?
    in Group B, I see Australia finishing at a very close fourth. I would like the Aussies to pip Cameroon, but I honestly see it ending in a draw. The only reason I have Australia finishing below Cameroon is that Cameroon will score more goals and conceed less than the Aussies.

    Missing captain Mile Jedinak will really hurt the Socceroos. Players such as Tim Cahill, are playing for their lives. For Cahill to make the cut for the 2018 World Cup, I see him scoring no less than three goals in the whole tournament. At 37, Cahill really needs to fire on all cylinders to show his worth to Coach Ange Postecoglou before the 2018 trip to Russia.

    Does Australia have a good history at the Confederations Cup?
    Australia qualified in 1997, they had a very good run. Finishing second in their group with four points behind Group leaders, Brazil on seven points.

    In the knockout stage, Australia beat the competition favourites, Uruguay, with a golden goal from Harry Kewell. They then faced Brazil in the final to lose by an embarrassing 0-6 in front of 65 000 people.

    Repeating their semi-success of 1997, in 2001 Australia once again finished second in their group behind only France. Unfortunately, the Socceroos got bumped out in the first round of the knockout stage by eventual Cup runners-up, Japan 0-1.

    2005 at the Confederations Cup was not a good ceremony for the green and gold. Losing all of their games in the group stage to Germany, Argentina and surprise qualifiers, Tunisia.

    Overall team rating heading into 2017 Confederations Cup: 7.2/10