Outright odds: 2500/1
To win group: 125/1
To qualify: 12/1
Full squad: Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (Sion), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets).
Manager: Ange Postecoglou
World Cup record: Last 16 (2006), eliminated in group stage (1974, 2010)
Australia have a fond affection for and with World Cups but they are of the cricketing and rugby kind and the Scocceros, going through a major transitional phase, will do well to take a point from their unfortunate draw in the Group of Death alongside three footballing giants.
The men from down under were controversially beaten by none other than Italy in 2006, when they had a man advantage and they fought hard in a tough section which produced the third place and quarter finalists in 2010, but there looks to have been a steady decline since then in the 4 years since and they are in a section which sees them looking very overmatched in comparison to what they’ve faced over the last eight years.
In South Africa after a 1-1 draw against Ghana and a 2-1 win over Serbia they were trashed 4-0 by Germany and facing Holland, Spain and Chile, that result looks more relevant to their chances here. They arrive here without notable, experienced names like Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neil, Craig Moore, Jason Culina, Brett Emertson, and Karry Kewell in particular all absent.
Ange Postecoglou – A winner of four Australia caps as a Greek born player who has led the Brisbane Roar to two A-League titles – brings a ide with just 4 players that are 30 or over, boasting an average age of just 25 as they look to build towards next year’s Asian Cup, which they will be hosting. However many of those players are playing their first games at such an exalted level and will be firecly tested; See Adam Taggart, who scored seven in his last 7 for the Newcastle Kets and who has quickly struck three times in just 4 appearances for the Soccerroos.
Thomas Oar has made little impact at FC Utrecht in the Eredevisie, scoring just 1 goal in his 31 games, and the hard working physical presence that is Matthew Leckie – who scored 10 goals and offered 9 assists in the Bundesliga 2 this season can offer versatility in behind the veteran Tim Cahill, their all time top goalscorer with 31 goals. Thankfully Cahill was still offering Everton a lot just over a year ago and can be a capable presence leading the line against two defences that are not the tightest in the world but the absence of Josh Kennedy, four-goal top-scorer from qualifying, is a big blow.
Mile Jedinak (left) was a key figure in the Crystal Palace revival under Tony Pulis and will need to perform twice as well to make an impact here, and Australia’s death of quality at this stage is exposed by the fact that Matthew Spiranovic and Ryan McGowan start for – and not regularly – for Western Sydney and Chonbuk Hynadi respectively and anyone but the three heavy defeats would be a surprise.