The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be somewhat of a rebuilding platform for the Australian national team.
There is a changing of the guard within the Socceroos setup with manager Ange Postecoglou set to take with him a fairly inexperienced group of players to Brazil.
Germany 2006 saw the Australians surprise the football world by making it past the group stage and troubling eventual champions Italy in the Round of 16 before losing out on a late penalty.
That side was judged to be something of a ‘golden generation’ for Dutch tactician Guus Hiddink before they were brought back down to earth with Pim Verbeek at the helm at South Africa 2010.
That squad, which was largely the same as four years earlier, was humbled 4-0 by Germany before drawing with Ghana and edging Serbia to narrowly miss out on the knockout phase but expect this year to be a completely new-look Socceroos squad.
Postecoglou has a firm plan in place to refill the depleted petrol tank of Australian football and it will begin in Brazil in one of the most difficult groups imaginable which will see them up against reigning champions Spain, 2010 runners-up Holland and dynamic South American nation Chile.
Manager: Ange Postecoglou
Fixtures: Chile - June 13 (Cuiaba), Holland - June 18 (Porto Alegre), Spain - June 23 (Curitiba)
Past outings against group opponents: Australia have played Chile four times for a draw and three losses. They last met at a World Cup in Germany in 1974 which produced a 0-0 draw. The Aussies have scored just once while conceding six goals to the Chileans.
The Socceroos have the wood over Holland in the past with one win and two draws coming from their three international meetings. Australia drew 1-1 with the Dutch in Rotterdam in 2006, beat them 2-1 in Eindhoven in 2008 and drew 0-0 in Sydney in 2009.
Australia have never taken on Spain at senior international level.
Key players: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Mark Bresciano (Al-Gharafa)
World Cup utopia: To progress out of Group B or to beat either Spain or Holland.
Doomsday scenario: Failing to score a goal.
Qualified by virtue of: Finishing second in Asian qualifying Group B.
Best result at a World Cup: Round of 16 (2006)
The Socceroos lost their way after securing their ticket to Brazil in June last year. Holger Osieck saw his side lose 6-0 to Brazil in Brasilia in September before the exact same scoreline haunted them against France in Paris the following month.
That essentially brought about the German’s demise and forced Football Federation Australia to make a tough decision ahead of the round ball code’s most important tournament.
Former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory boss Postecoglou was brought in to take the Socceroos in a new direction and this will be his first real assignment after overseeing a couple of friendlies against Costa Rica and Ecuador.
The likes of Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton and Brett Holman are no longer present but Postecoglou’s youth policy will give opportunities to inexperienced internationals such as Mat Ryan, Mitch Langerak, Curtis Good, Jason Davidson, Tommy Oar and Massimo Luongo.
While these players will hardly strike fear into the hearts of the Spaniards, Dutch and Chileans, they are the future of Australian football and the experience of being involved on the biggest stage in world football will only hold them in good stead.
The opponents the team will face are top quality football sides who will be extremely difficult to score against, let alone defeat, meaning the Socceroos have a mean task in front of them.
Unfortunately for the national team players, coaches and the many travelling Aussie fans alike, however, the 2014 World Cup will be more about the trip to South America and the spectacle as a whole rather than a riotously successful performance on the pitch.
Prediction: Group stage elimination.
For breaking stories and all the great banter like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tribalfootball