The Australian National Team qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a long process. Playing in Group D against France, Denmark and Tunisia, the road doesn’t get easier for Australia. However, the team has a shot at making it out of the group stage because of these five reasons.
The Opportunity to Surprise
Facing a group consisting of the previous World Cup champions in France and another top 10 team in Denmark, Australia is one of the underdogs. With Australia ranked the lowest among the group, the other three teams may underestimate the value of Australia’s experience in the World Cup. While France is the clear favorite to win the group, Australia could still be in a battle for second place.
Recent World Cup Woes
The 2022 World Cup will be the fifth straight World Cup for which Australia has qualified. Although Australia has been in the past four tournaments, they have not fared so well in the group stage, with the team’s best performance coming in 2006, when they fell in the round of 16. Since then, the Australian National Team has been unable to make it out of the group stage, most recently finishing last in their group in 2018. With Australia’s recent inability to make it past the group stage, the team will be looking to end the streak and advance this year.
A Tough Qualification
The road for Australia to qualify for the 2022 World Cup was a long one. After finishing third in round three of the AFC Qualifiers and therefore failing to automatically qualify for the World Cup, Australia advanced to the AFC playoff, where the team met the United Arab Emirates. Australia defeated UAE 2-1 to advance to the intercontinental playoffs for its final chance to secure a qualification. Australia faced Peru, and after a full 90 minutes and extra time, the score remained 0-0. The teams went into a penalty shootout, where Australia ultimately won 5-4 to obtain its spot in the World Cup. Although the qualification process was tough for Australia, the team’s ability to stay strong and pull through should help in the group stage.
Familiarity with Teams
Group D of the 2022 World Cup looks similar to Group C from the 2018 World Cup, with Australia, France and Denmark all back in the same group. Australia fell 2-1 to eventual World Cup winners France, however the team held strong against Denmark, with the two tying at 1. Australia will have a tough start to the World Cup, as its first game is against the defending champions. However, its experience with the top two teams in the group should help as the national team looks to redeem themselves from their 2018 showing.
Experience Against Champions
The 2022 World Cup won’t be the first time Australia has faced a reigning World Cup champion in its group. In 2014, Australia was placed in a group with Spain, which had won the 2010 World Cup, as well as the 2010 third place Netherlands. Although Australia fell in all three games in 2014, they played close with the Netherlands, falling 3-2 before Spain defeated the team 3-0 in the final group match. Australia will once again be dueling the World Cup champion when it takes on France, and although defending champs have a recent streak of not making it past the group stage the following tournament, it will still be a tough draw. Australia’s experience against top teams should keep the national team from getting overwhelmed with the stiff competition.