World Cup 2014: Australia national soccer team guide

AUSTRALIA HOPE TO MAKE HEADWAY

After making a splash in their first appearance in the World Cup in more than 30 years, making it out of the group phase in 2006 in Germany, the Aussies were bounced in group play in 2010. They hope to get back on track in Brazil in 2014 after recently jettisoning their coach after a trying qualification campaign.

WORLD CUP PROSPECTS

Not great. Australia's got plenty of grit and toughness and all the other intangibles that commentators like to throw around, but they are pretty short on quality. And they don't really connect passes in the attacking third all that well, which is one of the telltale signs of a team about to bust out some goals.

That said, they're not neophytes. This is their third straight qualification, and they even got out of the group back in 2006. Nobody should come into this game and expect a bunch of naive kids overawed by the situation. They are made of sterner, better stuff than that.

But is it winning stuff? Probably not in this group.

GROUP B SCHEDULE

June 13: vs. Chile, Cuiaba
June 18: vs. Netherlands, Porto Alegre
June 23: vs. Spain, Curitiba

WHO GOT THEM THERE
Tim Cahill, F, New York Red Bulls (pictured left): Australia’s heart and soul in midfield, Cahill has moved into more of an out-and-out attacking role and has a knack to find the net when his club needs it the most. The same goes for country after he added three goals in eight starts during WCQing.

Jason Davidson, D, Heracles Almelo: Part of the new generation of Socceroos, this tournament may come a bit early for the 22-year-old left back. He will be energetic, adding both penetration and width, but will have to make sure he doesn't leave space in behind for all the dynamic wingers in this group.

Mile Jedinak, MF, Crystal Palace: He's a ball-winning machine in central midfield, having led the English Premier League in tackles and interceptions. That's an Ozzie Alonso-type season, to put it into perspective. He'll have to cover vast swaths of ground to protect the backline.

THE COACH

Ange Postecoglou took over for Holger Osieck on Oct. 23, 2013, following consecutive 6-0 defeats to Germany and France. Postecoglou, a former player for the Australian national team (four caps in 1986), has no previous national team coaching experience.

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

WCQ record: 3-4-1, 13 pts. / 12 GF, 7 GA (2nd place in AFC Group B)

Australia didn't make qualifying for the 2014 World Cup easy on themselves. Beginning the final round of qualifying matches, the Aussies drew against Oman and Japan before losing to Jordan. Things looked bleak, but Australia won three matches and drew two more to secure a spot in the tournament.

WORLD CUP HISTORY

4th appearance

Australia is beginning to solidify themselves as a regular fixture in the World Cup. When they touch down in Brazil in 2014, it will be their third consecutive appearance, fourth overall. Now can they get back to the Round of 16 (or mabe even beyond)?

MLS/USA CONNECTIONS

Australia have one with MLS connections: Designated Player Tim Cahill of the New York Red Bulls. In 45 matches with the Red Bulls over the last two seasons, Cahill has had a knack for scoring goals when they're most needed. He found the back of the net 11 times in 2013 for the Supporters’ Shield winners... Cahill's soon-to-be crosstown rival, David Villa of Spain, will spend the second half of 2014 on loan with Melbourne City in the Australian A-League before heading to New York for NYCFC's inaugural season.

23-MAN WORLD CUP ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (Club Bruges), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United)

Defenders: Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa, Qatar), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (Sion), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), James Troisi (Atalanta), Massimo Luongo (Swindon)

Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Duesseldorf), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets)