Confidence is one thing, but Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is edging dangerously close to arrogance with respect to the Socceroos’ chances of World Cup qualification.
With the Australian cricket team turning a new chapter, the Wallabies still rebuilding and the Socceroos on the rise, what does it take to win the hearts of Australian sporting fans?
For years, the Australian cricket team was seen as the pinnacle of Australian sport.
Children and adults alike knew the names and the faces of the fine players that pulled on the baggy green.
Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Shane Warne and Adam Gillchrist were just a few of the players that hit our televisions and radios in epic proportions during the November to February period each year.
As we look back on World Cup defeat and another changing of the guard of what was once an unstoppable side, do we place our cricketers in the gold and green at the top of the tree? Or are our cricketers now no longer kings of the playground when it comes to talking about Australia’s favourite team?
The Socceroos have staked their claim more recently. Their efforts in the previous two FIFA World Cup tournaments caught the hearts of a nation.
The Kookaburra are the only Australian team to win a medal at each of the last four Olympics. They also hold every Commonwealth gold as well as sven Champions trophy victories and a World Cup win. Yet success does not always equal favour.
On the other hand our Australian Diamonds have seen a huge increase in fan base as a result of television coverage of all games played within Australia. The Diamonds head to Singapore next month to take home the a 9th World Championship victory.
A side that played on our minds in the late 90s and early 2000s was the Wallabies, successful and full of household names, players like George Gregan, John Eales and Stirling Mortlock seemed fearless and were always well supported.
The team now has few big name stars gracing the team, but the Wallabies will be revived when heading to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later this year.
As Australian sports fans we seem to want to support our codes in games that mean something, World Cups, World championships or some sort of qualifiers. Teams like our Boomers and Opals get big headlines only for the FIBA World Basketball Championships, or when one of our many Australian talents is putting down points in the big leagues.
Our women’s teams have suffered due to the lack of coverage of their endeavours. The Matildas will travel to Germany a the start of July to tackle the FIFA 2011 World Cup which will continue to build their stature. The Hockeyroos are one of the most successful sporting teams in Australia, but aren’t at the fore except during Olympic and Commonwealth games.
The reality is that to be touted as Australia’s sporting team there needs to be a high percentage of both success and marketability.
The Wallabies in the 90s used the nickname to help develop their brand. The Australian Cricket team of the early part of the century had enough success that marketability didn’t become an issue. Will it take just a name for the Australian cricket team to once again revive their fortunes and our interest?
For our current day Socceroos, the success over the past years has shown the world that football in Australia is growing. Players playing in the English Premier League have also increased our interest in them and the fortunes of the Socceroos.
The biggest chance to win hearts and minds is with the Wallabies. They get their shot at the Rugby World Cup this year. A win in New Zealand (preferably over the All Blacks) will have the team firmly in the hearts and minds of Australians.