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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Australia team guide

A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Australia ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Fixtures (Group F):

  • v Japan - 12 June, 1400 BST, Kaiserslautern
  • v Brazil - 18 June, 1700 BST, Munich
  • v Croatia - 22 June, 2000 BST, Stuttgart

    How did they get to Germany: With a truly nail-biting penalty shoot-out victory against Uruguay after their two-legged play-off ended 1-1. Sweet revenge indeed for four years ago when they went out at the same stage.

    Qualifying star: Mark Schwarzer. The Middlesbrough custodian was nearly taken off before penalties, but came to the party big time with two stunning spot-kick saves.

    Manager: Russian-bound Dutch coach Guus Hiddink has waved his World Cup magic wand yet again. Taking over from Frank Farina in July, he cast a spell over the Socceroos and completed what he called "almost mission impossible" when he arrived in the job.

    Australia captain Mark Viduka

    Captain: Mark Viduka. The big Middlesbrough hitman will be grateful his missed penalty did not cost his team dearly, but his experience and finishing ability will be a major factor in Germany.

    World Cup pedigree: None really. Qualified in 1974, but endured a goal-less and pretty much pointless three games.

    World Cup high: Think we saw it last November.

    World Cup low: Play-off defeats to Iran and Uruguay in 1997 and 2001 respectively.

    World Cup legend: The title is surely up for grabs in Germany.

    Australia winger Harry Kewell

    Present star man: Harry Kewell. The Liverpool winger showed in the second leg when he came on and tormented the Uruguayans he is one Aussie player capable of truly world-class displays.

    Strengths: Plenty of flair going forward and a host of options in the middle of the park.

    Weaknesses: A telling lack of pace and genuine quality at the back will be Hiddink's main concern going into a major tournament.

    Did you know: Everton midfielder Tim Cahill represented Samoa in an Under-20 tournament in 1994, when he was just 14-years-old.

    World ranking: 42

    Odds: 80/1

    Local view: "The false dawns are over. Unlike in 1974, this time Australia's expensive team of European-based exiles will travel to a World Cup more hopefully." John Huxley, Sydney Morning Herald.

    Our verdict: Under the meticulously brilliant Hiddink, they may never have a better chance to gate-crash football's showpiece and spring a few surprises.

    Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.



  • 2006 WORLD CUP TEAM GUIDES
     

    SEE ALSO
    Pick your Australia XI
    31 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    Country profile: Australia
    27 Sep 05 |  Country profiles


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