AUSTRALIAN WORLD CUP TEAM 2006
The Australian national football (soccer) team represents Australia in international football (soccer) competitions. The team is organised by Football Federation Australia, the sport's national governing body, and its official nickname is "the Socceroos". Australia is ranked # 42 in the FIFA World Rankings for May 2006.
The first Australian national team was constituted in 1922 for a tour of New Zealand. During that tour, Australia suffered two defeats and scraped together a draw. Australia, New Zealand, China and South Africa would become regular opponents in "Test" or "Friendly" matches for the next 25 years. With the advent of cheap air travel, Australia would diversify its range of opponents. However, its geographical isolation continued to play a role in its destiny for the next 80 years.
Early World Cup Qualifying Attempts
The national team played at the World Cup finals in West Germany in 1974, which would prove to be their only appearance until 2006. Over that 32 year time span, the Australian team was known for its near misses in its attempts to qualify for the World Cup, most notably the 1998 and 2002 events.
However, Australia's notoriously roundabout path to World Cup Qualification is not a recent development. Throughout its history of attempted World Cup qualification, FIFA had consistently awarded Australia sequences of matches which could be considered illogical.
Australia's first attempt to qualify was for the 1966 tournament in England. As a result of a decision to award very few places to non-European/South American nations, FIFA determined that Australia would playoff against North Korea. In 1965, North Korea was a political entity not recognised by many nations including the United Kingdom. Additionally, the match was scheduled to take place in "neutral" Cambodia who was actually a strong ally of North Korea. Due to their equivocal political status at the time, there were calls from various sides for Australia to claim their place in the World Cup instead of North Korea.
Future campaigns for the 1970, 1978, 1982, and 1986 World Cups would see Australia put into competition with politically isolated or non-aligned nations. Opponents included Israel (whom neighbouring Arab nations refused to play), Taiwan (who had lost much political recognition to Beijing), Iran (who had undergone a revolution) and, more logically, New Zealand. However, this preliminary tournament would always result in a playoff with one or two other stronger countries from Europe or South America.
Protests from the Australian Soccer Federation and attempts to join the Asian Football Confederation at this time were rejected. However, the qualifying process was somewhat simplified from the 1990 World Cup. However, it was not until the 1998 World Cup where the OFC was granted a guaranteed 0.5 qualifying spot.
WORLD CUP TEAMS 2006
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