Having suffered the trauma of their heaviest defeat in World Cup finals history, the Socceroos must now pick themselves off the floor to defeat Ghana without their most influential player Tim Cahill.

Could any 2010 World Cup campaign have started more disastrously than Australia’s 4-0 hammering by a scintillating Germany in Durban? Doubtful.

Can coach Pim Verbeek somehow get the derailed Socceroos express – or should that be rickety rattler? – back on track? Possible, but equally doubtful.

The prospects of resuscitation look particularly poor for the stunned Socceroos, given that a draw in Rustenburg next Saturday against Ghana, 1-0 victors over Serbia, will not be good enough.

Only a win will do.

And without 2006 Cup hero Cahill, automatically suspended for a match after his harsh sending-off in the devastating rout by Germany, that looks problematic.

Cahill was inconsolable, sobbing after what he called one of the lowest points of his football career.

If Verbeek has copped so much criticism over his unfathomable team changes against Germany, what will his next trick be without Cahill?

Will he finally call on Harry Kewell, who he insists is fit yet refuses to play?

The ageing Socceroos, hoping to go one better than their round of 16 finish in 2006, were handed such a mesmerising lesson by Germany that they may do well to slink home without further embarrassment.

Their previous worst hiding came at their first finals appearance in 1974 when host nation West Germany beat the then Australian part-timers 3-0.

It is no cause for shame to be beaten by a country which has won the World Cup three times and earned a reputation as the world’s most consistent team.

It was the manner of the beating that mattered.

Midfielder Vince Grella, when offered commiserations after the drubbing, replied: “No-one has died.”

But the entire Australian management team, from Verbeek down, were wearing the sombre black suits of undertakers.

And expressions to match.

© AAP 2018
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