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Australia’s Best World Cup Moment

Australia will participate in its sixth World Cup in 2022, hosted by Qatar. Because the country is its own continent, FIFA has struggled to find the right qualification tournament for the Socceroos in recent history.

From 1986 to 2010, they had to qualify through the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), forcing them into automatic playoff games, which they often lost, except in 2006. They now play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), giving them a more direct path to the World Cup. This will be Australia’s fifth consecutive appearance since 2006, and the switch to the AFC was made in 2010, which has helped them be consistent contributors to the tournament.

Australia's players celebrate after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 inter-confederation play-offs match between Australia and Peru
Mustafa Abumunes - AFP

The Socceroos only made it out of the group stage in 2006 and have only won two matches while participating in the World Cup.

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2006 World Cup

The 2006 World Cup in Germany was an excellent year for the Australian national soccer team. It was its first time qualifying since 1974, beating Uruguay on penalties in the playoffs to advance.

Australia faced Japan in the first game of Group F, winning 3-1, for the country’s first-ever win in the tournament. Tim Cahill, second in all-time caps and first in goals for the national team, subbed in at the 53rd minute and scored two goals with less than six minutes left in the game. He retired from international play in 2018 as arguably the country’s best soccer player ever, and those goals were one of the most significant moments in his national team career.

The Socceroos lost to Brazil and then drew 2-2 with Croatia to come in second in the group with four points, advancing to the round of 16.

They would face the tournament’s eventual winners, Italy, putting up a terrific fight. It took a stoppage-time goal by Italian legend Francesco Totti to send the Socceroos home with their best performance in a World Cup.

Second Win in 2010

In 2010, Australia qualified for the World Cup for the first time through the AFC. They dominated the qualifiers, finishing with a record of 6-2-0, earning a spot in their second straight World Cup.

The Socceroos found themselves in a much tougher group in 2010, losing 4-0 to Germany and drawing 1-1 with Ghana, two teams that made it to the tournament’s quarterfinals. However, they got their second-ever win, beating Serbia 2-1, with Cahill scoring the game’s opening goal.

Even though Australia finished with four points in the group stage, a -3 goal differential saw them sent home while Ghana moved on.

Any Hope in Qatar

To make it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Australia had to battle through the playoffs, beating Peru in an intense penalty shootout. In the group stages of qualification, the Socceroos finished third with 15 points, placing them in that playoff game with Peru.

It was a surprise they even made it into the World Cup, but they have been placed in Group D, along with Denmark, Tunisia, and defending champions France. It is a difficult group, especially with France and Denmark being very good sides. However, Tunisia does offer up an opportunity for the national team to get its third World Cup win.

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