How will the Socceroos perform in Russia?

David Holden Roar Guru

By David Holden, David Holden is a Roar Guru


34 Have your say

    The Socceroos were clearly the better side against Honduras in their recent home-and-away play off series and deserved their 3-1 aggregate victory and one of the last spots in the World Cup.

    Four World Cup qualifications in a row is a great achievement and the team and supporters will rightfully celebrate.

    However, thoughts will soon turn to Russia in 2018. Ange Postecoglou and members of the Socceroos have all said, during the qualifying phase, that the change in playing style was intended to not only qualify for the World Cup but to make a mark on it when they arrived. The core of this team played in the last World Cup in Brazil so they should be better prepared this time around. So, what’s the Socceroos pass mark in Russia?

    Firstly, a lot depends on the draw in early December. The Socceroos world ranking of number 43 gets them a spot in the lowest pool of teams, so it’s guaranteed that the three other teams in their pool will be ranked above them. Luck will have a lot to do with it and it would surely be better for the Socceroos to be selected with Russia, Croatia and Egypt rather than Germany, Spain and Denmark, both of which are possibilities.

    Past World Cups give us some idea to the future. Germany in 2006 was a golden age for Australian football, with the likes of Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer and a young Tim Cahill heading up a very strong team. A win over Japan and a draw with Croatia saw Australia progress to the round of 16 knock-out stage. A very soft penalty awarded to Italy, and that’s paying it more respect than I should, ended Australia’s tournament.

    The infamous penalty conceded by Lucas Neill to Italy's Fabian Grosso in 2006

    (Image: AFP)

    In 2010, a draw with Ghana and a win over Serbia wasn’t enough to get to the knock-out stage, with the 4-0 loss to Germany in their first game setting a large negative goal difference that the Socceroos couldn’t overcome. Having Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell sent off during the pool games didn’t help either.

    After two good results in 2006 and 2010, a World Cup Brazil draw against Chile, Netherlands and Spain proved too tough for the Socceroos in 2014 and they went home winless. Ange Postecoglou was appointed very late in the process, following the sacking of Holger Osieck after the Socceroos were beaten 6-0 in warm up games against Brazil and France.

    The combination of a young, inexperienced team and a tough draw unfortunately went as many had expected.

    I get the feeling that this time will be different. The Socceroos will need to address their goal kicking woes from open field play but the likes of Tim Cahill, Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic should be able to create and convert more chances.

    Australia’s defence has been suspect at times but the return of Mile Jedinak to the team, in a defensive midfielder role, resulted in a much more stable defence against Honduras.

    A lot obviously depends on the draw but I think the Socceroos of 2018 could cause a few shocks in Russia and be very competitive in their group, challenging for a spot in the knock-out stages. They will be under very little pressure, with most offshore media writing them off completely. They won’t mind this lack of attention and will likely use it as motivation.

    If they don’t win a game, we can at least console ourselves that Australia made the World Cup. Chile and the Netherlands, two of our pool games in 2014, and Italy, weren’t as fortunate.

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • November 19th 2017 @ 8:25am
      Cool N Cold said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      There is only one strategy in the group stage. It is to try to win the team from the 3rd pot and to draw with the team from the 1st pot.

      Play defensively with the team from Pot 1 and aggressively with the team from Pot 3. This is an old formula.

      Read and see how Greece won the 2004 UEFA European Championship.

      Greece got only 4 points in the group stage. Then, they only got one goal each in the next 3 elimination matches to get the championship.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 19th 2017 @ 9:54am
      Grobbelaar said | November 19th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      AS is mentioned in the OP, a lot depends on the draw.

      Interesting that from our group in the 2014 WC, we are only one of two teams good enough to make it to Russia.

      This gives me hope that we can improve on our three losses and goal difference of -6 in our next WC appearance.

      I’m confident we can at least achieve that much.

      • November 19th 2017 @ 9:59am
        jamesb said | November 19th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        So how did you go the other day. Did you put money on a 0-0 draw with Australia- Honduras?
        Did you have a plunge?

        • Roar Rookie

          November 19th 2017 @ 10:10am
          Grobbelaar said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          I’m not a betting man jamesb.

          For those of us who have followed football all our lives, we know how unpredictable the game of football can be: a deflected goal here, a penalty there, ball trickling over the line in goal mouth scramble – all ways of getting on the scoreboard in the beautiful game.

          I would never bet on such unpredictability.

          But I was sure of one thing, which I repeated over and over and over, Australia would qualify with ease because the opposition we were up against were all second rate.

          • November 19th 2017 @ 10:38am
            j,binnie said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            Grobbelaar A rather simple but effective analysis when assessing our chances in Russia can be made by examining our progress so far,,bearing in mind AP has, in the main stuck with a group of payers numbering around 30-40.

            In our first round of qualifying games we were drawn against what would have to be termed “minnows” in the greater Asian region, and the results achieved did in fact reflect our standing at that level with P 8, W 7, D 0, L 1, F 29, A 4. So far so good.

            The next round saw us facing a better class of opposition and again the results reflected on that fact with – P 10, W 5, D 4, L 1, F 16 , A 11.

            Again we advanced to the next phase, but not so easily.

            Play -offs.- In these games we were drawn against a previous opponent ,Saudi Arabia and one from another continent ,Honduras.
            The play off figures showed P4, W 2, D 2, L O, F 6 A 3.

            So, as these figures denote it becomes obvious that the World Cup “draw” has worked to date as we have found the Socceroos “game plan” bringing us ever nearer to where our standard is really at in world rankings.

            On Dec 1st we are going to find out who among the game’s elite we are going to be paired with in Russia and that will truly start to “test our mettle” Cheers jb.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 10:19am
      jamesb said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      The confederations cup performances does provide some hope. They lost against a Germany B side, but did drew both games against Chile and Cameroon.

      I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts from overseas, and they actually think that Australia is a good side judging by what they did in the confeds cup.

      Again, as the author says, it comes back to the draw. Australia needs to avoid Spain from pot 2.

      I think the ultimate group of death for Australia would be Brazil, Spain and Denmark.

      And as an aside, my ultimate group of death would be Argentina, Mexico, Denmark and Serbia.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 19th 2017 @ 11:32am
        Grobbelaar said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        jamesb said: “And as an aside, my ultimate group of death would be Argentina, Mexico, Denmark and Serbia. “”

        Serbia is in pot 3, and both Mexico and Denmark are in pot 2.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 11:00am
      bobbym said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      A tot depends on who replaces Ange- I would grab Hiddink and Poppa for Russia – maybe appoint Poppa long term can’t see him lasting in the turmoil of his Turkish club – I would also bring in Viduka as part of the coaching team to work with the strikers

      • November 19th 2017 @ 12:30pm
        Midfielder said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        Ange is staying IMO

        • November 19th 2017 @ 4:58pm
          LuckyEddie said | November 19th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

          Wish he would drop the ego and just say yes or no. Then we can get on with it. For someone who pretends to hate the media he seems to like the attention and playing his childish games.

          • November 19th 2017 @ 7:53pm
            Gavin R said | November 19th 2017 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

            Until his issues are made public, the knocking of Ange is a little harsh imo. You literally have absolutely no idea what his grievances are; warranted or otherwise.

            • November 19th 2017 @ 8:55pm
              LuckyEddie said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

              Well he has had enough time to tell us as his little game has been going on for months. Of course if he had cleared the air by now he would not be getting his ego shined by the media. Lets face it he bumbled through qualifying and beat a jet lagged team rated 69 in the World to qualify and that was via penalties and a deflected free kick. The bloke is no coaching genius and the sooner he goes plans can start to get in a real manager. He would have pocketed a million dollar bonus for falling over the line and now carries on like a sad ego freak.

              • November 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm
                Gavin R said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

                Maybe making it public is not in the FFA or the national teams best interest? It’ll all come to fruition in the next week

    • November 19th 2017 @ 11:08am
      Scott said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      Firstly, a lot depends on the draw in early December.

      The author should’ve stopped writing right after that sentence. Simples.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 12:31pm
      Midfielder said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      We will win it…

      • Roar Guru

        November 19th 2017 @ 12:54pm
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        Indeed, why not!

        Last night I was chatting with a Belgian, Colombian, English and Swede. They all wanted Australia in their World Cup group. We are popular!

        • November 19th 2017 @ 3:30pm
          Football_Wunderkind said | November 19th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report


          The Englishman can get stuffed.

          His team is always crap and performs below expectations.
          I would love England in our group. We would surely lift against them.