Australia’s first FIFA World Cup appearance was the 1974 World Cup and they were the only OFC team to qualify. The OFC (Oceania Football Federation) was created by Australia and New Zealand in 1966 after both countries were refused entry to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The OFC began with 4 teams: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Since then, it has grown to 11 full-member associations and 2 associate members. The 2 associate members are not recognized by the FIFA federation.
A team of dominance
Australia left the OFC and joined the AFC in 2008. The main reason is that they completely dominated OFC competitions and largely because of a massive 31-0 defeat over American Samoa in 2001 during the FIFA 2002 World Cup qualifications. Just two days before they broke the previous record 22-0 against Tonga. It was decided Australia should be moved to the AFC for more competitive matches. Here is a brief look at the history of Australia’s involvement in the FIFA World Cup and a small breakdown of each participation.
Australia’s World Cup history
Having the Socceroos in the FIFA World Cup first occurred in 1974, when the competition only had a total of 16 teams on the roster. Unfortunately, Australia failed to get past the Group 1 stage. Far superior teams East Germany and West Germany were the ones that progressed through this stage. It wasn’t until the 2006 World Cup that Australia managed to qualify again, while they were still part of the OFC. This would be the last time they represented the OFC. As part of Group F, the Socceroos, along with Brazil, managed to advance to the knockout stage, leaving Croatia and Japan in the dust.
Unfortunately, the round of 16 is where Australia’s journey in the 2006 World Cup ended, losing to Italy 1-0.
Australia also qualified for the 2010 World Cup which was hosted by South Africa but they failed to get past the group stage with one win, one draw, and one loss. Ghana, who advanced to the knockout stage had the same result but had a 0-goal difference while Australia had -3.
For the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil, Australia once again qualified but fared even worse, losing all three of their group matches. 3-1 to Chile, 2-3 to the Netherlands, and 0-3 to Spain, resulting in the team accumulating 0 points and taking last place on the Group B list.
Australia was on the Group C list along with France, Denmark, and Peru for the 2018 World Cup which was hosted in the Russian Federation. Australia once again failed to make it past the group stage but fared slightly better than the previous World Cup with 2 losses and 1 draw. To be fair, they did manage to score against France who went on to win their second World Cup title and are the current reigning champions, so there is something to be gained from that.
Australia’s Chances in 2023
Next up is the 2022 World Cup that will be held in Qatar which is currently scheduled from November 21st to December 18th. The World Cup is normally held in the European summer but due to the extreme climate of Qatar, it was decided to move the event to the somewhat cooler months.
This year Australia is in Group D along with France, Denmark, and Tunisia, with their first match against France on November 22nd. Going by the Socceroos’ history with the tournament, they have shown an inkling of promise but they still have a long way to go if they really want to make a dent and be serious contenders against the big boys. Hopefully, they can make their mark this year and move on from the group stage.