Sport Football Group of spice is deathly hot for Socceroos at World Cup
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Group of spice is deathly hot for Socceroos at World Cup

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World Cups aren’t meant to be easy.

Though the Socceroos aren’t sure they’re meant to be this hard.

Australia will face the world’s finest at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, having landed in group B to play world and European champions Spain, 2010’s beaten finalists The Netherlands and Chile.

Australia’s opening game of the tournament is on June 13, 2014 against Chile in Cuiaba, a city located in the exact geographic heart of South America, an equidistant 2000km from the Atlantic and Pacific ocean.

They then face The Netherlands in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on June 18 and finish the group phase and against the defending world champions, Spain, in Curitiba on June 23.

With Spain and Chile, we’ve been drawn in the Group of Spice. Okay, and the Group of Death. Always the Group of Death.

If you want to be at the World Cup finals you may as well play the best. After all, isn’t that what the whole shindig is about?

The Australians, the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the World Cup Finals, have been been assigned mission impossible to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament.

And in the event they do, their likely opponent in the round of 16 will be host nation Brazil.

For new Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, it may be a case of be careful what you wish for.

Having sought and secured the job, Postecoglou has been adamant that his main task is to restore pride in the national team.

Postecoglou is now expected to deliver on that promise.

Facing such storied opponents at the World Cup finals is sure to test the physical, mental and emotional resources of the coach and his team in unprecedented ways.

His mantra is one of no excuses for under-performance in any circumstances. This will be the gold standard against which he will be judged.

For many Socceroos fans, watching previous World Cup draws felt like anticipating an invitation. Given the Socceroos’ recent results in Brazil and France, this felt more like awaiting a verdict.

It’s all about mindset from here on — and the Socceroos coach is determined to see this not as a crisis but an opportunity.

Postecoglou was beaming after the draw.

“We’re going to see some good football in our group. Our job is to play our part in that group. It’s an enormous challenge for us. For a nation like ours it’s exactly what we want. We’ve got a chance to make some headlines when the World Cup comes around,” Postecoglou said.

Make no mistake, the giants stalking group B will be looking at the Socceroos as easy prey.

All three have ambitions and expectations to progress to the last 16 and nothing short of maximum points from their game against Australia will suffice. The big boys will be coming for us, big time.

Postecoglou maintains that’s exactly what he wants.

“For us we have some immediate challenges with the quality of these teams. The beauty of it though is that we’ll play good football.

“We know what Spain are like and the Dutch have always played good football. Chile in this qualifying campaign have been outstanding. We want to keep growing and getting better and that’s our measure.”

And so the work begins for Postecoglou to prepare for the coming maelstrom.

If you want to be at the World Cup finals you may as well play the best. After all, isn’t that what the whole shindig is about?

In that sense, Australian football is the first big winner of these World Cup finals.

GROUP A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Croatia draws the booby prize of facing Brazil in the opening game of the tournament in Sao Paulo. A bit of a step up then from their last outing in a cut throat play off against Iceland then…

GROUP B: Spain, The Netherlands, Chile, Australia

“With Spain and Chile, we’ve been drawn in the Group of Spice. Okay, and the Group of Death. Always the Group of Death.”

GROUP C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Japan made the round of 16 last time and are a good shot to qualify from Group C. Our great regional rival has every right to expect a quarter final berth is possible.

GROUP D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Australia’s nemesis, Uruguay, ancient rival England and Italy are in Group D. It’s a shame Australia wasn’t drawn in Group D. It could have been The Group of Justice.

GROUP E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

The French and the Swiss add the Euro chic. The Hondurans and Ecuadorians add the passion and flair. This group is like an exotic holiday.

GROUP F: Argentina, Bosnia, Iran, Nigeria

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face Argentina in the group phase for the second consecutive World Cup finals. And Bosnia-Herzegovina makes its World Cup finals debut 20 years on from the cruel war that ravaged the country.

GROUP G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Organisers are planning a Zoolander-style walk off between German coach Joachim Low and Portugal’s Ronaldo. The grooming should be exquisite. Which one will break out Magnum first?

GROUP H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

Plucky Belgium no more. They’ll race through this group and are my dark horse to be finalists.

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