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World Cup: Australia team profile

Australia spectacularly walked away victorious in their play-off final, beating Peru 5-4 on penalties to secure qualification for the World Cup finals in Qatar.

(This article was originally published on 22.09.2022)

Graham Arnold's side head to Qatar with confidence and ambition, after that incredible result against Peru which will see the Aussies compete in the tournament for a fifth consecutive occasion.

Between the sticks is FC Copenhagen's Mathew Ryan, who is not shy of the global spotlight, having previously played in the Premier League against the world's best and he could be Australia's key man during the competition.

Although Australia are 401.00 to go all the way at the World Cup, Arnold's squad travel to Qatar with nothing to lose and anything is possible, even if it is unlikely.

What:World Cup
When:20th November - 18th December 2022
Odds:Brazil 4.33, England 9.00, France 8.50, Spain 9.00, Argentina 6.50

Australia's World Cup record

Australia haven't ever really had a result to cheer about since they made their World Cup debut back in 1974 - the first of their six appearances at the tournament.

During the 1974 campaign the Socceroos were unable to claim a single victory and then missed out on the next seven tournaments following their poor run in West Germany.

However, in 2006, Australia booked their place in Germany again and caught the eye, as they managed to reach the last-16, before ultimately getting knocked out of the competition following a 1-0 defeat to Italy - that run their best at any World Cup to date.

Qualification for the last three finals has been secured, but the Socceroos have not been able to progress from the group stage in any of those campaigns.

Group stage

1974, 2010, 2014, 2018

How did the team qualify?

Arnold's side made light work of reaching the third round of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers, winning all eight of their group stage games against the likes of Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei.

The next stage of qualification wasn't as straightforward, however. The Aussies finished third behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, racking up 15 points from their 10 qualifiers.

Forced into the inter-confederation play-offs, the Socceroos dispatched the United Arab Emirates, with Ajdin Hrustic finding a late winner to help Australia progress.

Eventually, they made their way past Peru in a dramatic penalty shootout in Qatar ending 5-4, with substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne the hero of the hour.

Who is in Australia's group?

The Aussies have been drawn in Group D, alongside reigning champions France, Tunisia and Denmark.

Their curtain-raiser will be against the French on 22nd November, while they face Tunisia four days later and wrap up their group campaign against Denmark on 30th November.

France are among the favourites to lift the World Cup once again and should therefore emerge as the pole sitters of Group D with ease. Australia are priced at 17.00 to win the group and 4.33 to qualify for the knockout stages.

Their head-to-head with fellow contenders Denmark could prove to be the deciding factor in who progresses to the round of 16 as runners-up in the section.

Should Australia claim the runner-up spot in Group D, they will take on the winners of Group C, which is expected to be Lionel Messi's Argentina, as the Paris Saint-Germain ace leads his country in what will be his last dance on an international level.

Related World Cup Group D News

World Cup - Football: Group D preview

World Cup - Football: Denmark team profile

World Cup - Football: France team profile

World Cup - Football: Tunisia team profile

Who is Australia's manager?

Aiming to guide the Aussies to success is Arnold. The 58-year-old enjoyed a lengthy career, making over 450 appearances at various clubs, his longest spell being with Sydney United, where he made 178 appearances, netting 68 times.

He took charge of the Socceroos as a caretaker manager following the 2000-2006 period where he worked as an assistant to then managers Frank Farina and Guus Hiddink, with the former leading the nation to the last-16 in 2006.

After spells with the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC, Arnold returned to the international set-up in 2018 with hopes of guiding Australia to their best-ever finish at a World Cup.

Who is Australia's key player?

Former Brighton & Hove Albion and current FC Copenhagen goalkeeper Ryan could prove to be crucial if the Aussies want to match and even better their run at the 2006 World Cup.

Ryan will be a valuable asset to Arnold's side, the shot-stopper carrying years of experience of facing some of the best players in the world.

Who is Australia's rising star?

A potential name to look out for is Nicholas D'Agostino.

The 24-year-old Melbourne Victory forward featured in 26 of Victory's 28 fixtures this season, scoring on 10 occasions, placing him joint fourth in the A-League goalscoring charts.

What are Australia's predicted line-up and tactics?

Australia's predicted line-up (4-1-4-1): Mat Ryan; Nathaniel Atkinson, Bailey Wright, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich; Aaron Mooy; Martin Boyle, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Mathew Leckie; Mitchell Duke.

Arnold has opted for the 4-1-4-1 formation in the qualifying rounds, so this tactical familiarity is expected to be upheld during the remainder of the competition.

They don't have the luxury of deploying quick, flair players with eye-catching goalscoring ability, so it is likely that the Socceroos will set up in a defensive blockade, aiming to catch out their opponents on the counter-attack.

Mitchell Duke and Jackson Irvine have often competed for attacking roles along with D'Agostino, who could bolster Australia's attacking hopes from the bench.

How far can Australia go?

The Aussies aren't likely to go all the way, but they are priced at 4.33 to qualify for the round of 16, despite not having as an established a squad as the one that reached that stage in 2006.

Under Arnold's management and coming into the tournament with nothing to lose, they really have no pressure, or limit on how far they can go during the winter months in Qatar.

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