Germany, Ghana, and Serbia. There are no easy names among those. Australia has already been been pegged as the underdog in its World Cup group, and the odds at the bookies agree (at the moment $1.14 for Germany to progress to round 2, Serbia $2.15, Ghana $2.25, Australia $2.85). Some even think that we will emerge with zero points.
But the scene in 2006 was familiar, when we confronted Brazil, Croatia and Japan. Our opening game was with Japan. I remember the elation, standing in the chilly early morning air with 5,000 screaming fans in Circular Quay, for the result. We won’t be expected to win the opener this time around, but even a draw against Germany would be taken as a victory. I expect Australia to have a few surprises in store for all the naysayers in the world.
Some comments from a few mates…
“We should take down Serbia, the key game is Ghana. Sure they have Essien and an amazing track record (haven’t lost a game in 18) but have they got the Aussie spirit. Germans will kill us as [simile deleted for political correctness].”
“Our group is tough, but not impossible by any means. We can take down Ghana … if we’re on song. The efficient schweinhunds will be very hard….but not out of the question. With names like Hitzlesperger and Schweinsteiger they really deserve to do well. Who adapts best to South African conditions will play a part.”
“I think we’ve got a reasonable group. We’ve beaten Ghana a few times (I saw the game in Sydney last year…though we weren’t pretty) and know them well.
“Germany is probably one of the more dangerous teams out of the seeds to draw. Would’ve preferred England any day. We’ve gone through Asian qualifying without conceding much, but this was mainly due to Schwarzer’s heroics and a lack of clinical finishing by the opposition – there were some games we should have lost by 2 or 3 nil. The Germans won’t make the same mistakes in front of goal.
“Serbia will be interesting. In the last World Cup they went through qualifying without conceding a goal, but then absolutely imploded once they got there. Remember that one game where 1 of their players got sent off and then the whole team gave up? They lost 6-0 to Argentina and didn’t get any points from the group stage. So I think our mental toughness could get the better of them.”
Of course, if Australia progresses to the second round, we will most likely face England. The prospect is absolutely delicious.
Start countin’ down the days!