Facing tough times

It would be preposterous for anyone to believe that Australia would have a great time at Brazil 2014. With luck having deserted the Socceroos at the draw itself, Australia is faced with a tough ride at football’s showpiece event.

In the run-up itself, the Australians were quite mediocre before sealing their berth for a third consecutive time, and fourth overall, from the Asian region. And the heavy battering that followed at the hands of Brazil and France, in identical score-lines of 6-0, in friendly matches has seen a change of manager from Holger Osieck to Ange Postecoglou.

Though this change has been somewhat refreshing, being pooled together in Group B with reigning champion Spain, runner-up the Netherlands and Chile has affected Australia’s prospects in this World Cup. And the good showing at 2006 Germany, where the Socceroos entered the second round as they returned to the game’s glamour event after a gap of 32 years, now looks a distant dream.

Strategically, the Australians would be approaching the World Cup games with a flat four in defence and two central midfielders screening, leaving a lone traditional striker to pursue the team’s fortunes upfront. Under Postecoglou, the team is also expected to be more attacking.

However, the absence of key forward Robbie Kruse and centre back Rhys Williams is bound to slow down the Socceroos, who would be depending more on the tried and tested Tim Cahill than ever before. The former Everton player who now turns out for the New York Red Bulls in the MLS is still a treat to watch with his aerial attempts and efforts from away.