GROUP D: Can Australia exceed expectations of their hopeful fans?
2006 was a coming of age for a nation who excels at almost every sport it plays.
For years, the Australian national team has struggled in world football when the nation has been winning plenty of other events worldwide but four years ago, they emerged as a team that actually has some ability.
Technically, the Socceroos are nowhere near more established football nations but a will to win and strong passion for the game has them no situated in the top 20 teams in world football.
Under Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos defeated Japan, drew with Croatia and took it right up to eventual world champions Italy to notify the rest of the community that they had finally arrived as a football nation.
But with the huge part that sport plays in the life of Australians, 2010 is a different feeling for Socceros fans who expect their team to achieve success. Anything less than a Round of 16 qualification will be seen as a failure but in a tough group, they may simply fail at a time when they are expected to do well as opposed to last time when there were no expectations at all.
South Africa could prove too big a task for Pim Verbeek and his men but with injuries to key players from Germany and Ghana and the poor recent form of Serbia, things may happen to fall their way.
Playing schedule: Germany (Durban) June 13; Ghana (Rustenburg) June 19; Serbia (Nelspruit) June 23
Also known as: Socceroos Manager: Pim Verbeek (NED) Captain:Lucas NeillKey players: Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell Wildcard:Nikita RukavytsyaPlayer to watch: Jason Culina Most caps: Alex Tobin (87). Of this squad:Mark Schwarzer (75) Top goalscorer: Damian Mori (29). Of this squad: Tim Cahill (20) FIFA ranking: 20 Qualifying: Top in Group B of AFC group stage. Appearance: 3rd Best result: Round of 16 - 2006
Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel) David Carney (FC Twente) Lucas Neill (Galatasaray) Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart) Craig Moore (unattached) Mark Milligan (JEF United Chiba) Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow)
Vince Grella (Blackburn Rovers) Carl Valeri (Sassuolo) Jason Culina (Gold Coast) Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor) Tim Cahill (Everton) Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar) Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg) Mark Bresciano (unattached) Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers) Richard Garcia (Hull City)
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