Last 16 a realistic target for Socceroos after World Cup 2018 draw
After a gruelling qualifying campaign that involved some serious nail-biting and air miles, the draw for the World Cup 2018 finals in Russia saw Australia placed in Group C, along with France, Denmark and Peru providing the opposition.
The Socceroos will be appearing in their fifth World Cup finals and their fourth in succession. The aim in Russia will be to replicate the success of 2006, which was the only time to date that Australia have managed to navigate their way past the group stage, only to go out in the last 16 to a controversial Francesco Totti penalty deep into stoppage-time against the eventual champions Italy.
Following the group draw for World Cup 2018, you can now back Australia at odds of 300-1 with Centrebet to win the tournament. You’d have to be hugely optimistic to believe that the Socceroos can go all the way in Russia, but there will be a vast array of other World Cup bets available over the coming months ahead of the finals and it will be well worth checking the Australian free bets site for any promotional free bets offered on various World Cup 2018 betting markets and individual games.
It has to be said that Guus Hiddink’s squad back in 2006 contained some top quality players, including Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Tony Popovic, Craig Moore, John Aloisi and Mark Bresciano.
That squad also featured a 26-year old Tim Cahill and 20-year old Mark Milligan, both of whom (aging limbs notwithstanding) will probably be on the plane to Russia a dozen years later.
The ‘Golden Generation’ of 2006 is now but a fading memory, but there is still quality in the Aussie ranks in the likes of Aaron Mooy, Matt Ryan and Tom Rogic. The problem is that there is nowhere near the same depth of talent available today.
One man who won’t be with the squad is Ange Postecoglou, who quit as coach within a week of steering the national team past Honduras to secure qualification for next year’s tournament, citing the toll his four-year tenure had taken on him “both personally and professionally”.
Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy and CEO David Gallop now have to set out to find the right man to take the Socceroos to Russia, with Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold a possibility to have another crack at the job he had a decade ago. Another option could be Tony Popovic, who might be keen to make a swift exit from Turkish Süper Lig strugglers Karabükspor.
The draw is tough, but it’s certainly not impossible for Australia to progress to the knockout stages. They start their campaign against the might of France at the Kazan Arena on Saturday 16th June at 21:00 (AEST), before taking on Denmark at the Samara Arena on Friday 22nd June at 02:00 and finally Peru at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Wednesday 27th June at 01:00.
The opening game against France is as tough as it gets, but even a point against Denmark would keep Australian hopes alive going into the final game against a Peruvian team that look decidedly beatable.
One possible factor in Australia’s favour is that they took part at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as 2015 AFC Asian Cup winners, losing 3-2 to Germany before securing 1-1 draws against Cameroon and Chile. That experience might just prove invaluable.