Football

World Cup 2014: Chile and Australia show promise

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Occasionally in football there are matches where both teams are happy with the result. Usually these matches are a draw which suits both sides or when an underdog puts up a fight, narrowly getting beaten. Last night in Cuiabá we saw an example of the latter.

The 3-1 scoreline is a little flattering for Chile who, despite their early 2-0 lead, were worked hard for their three points. A stoppage time Jean Beausejour strike eased the pressure on the Chileans in the dying seconds, ending a spirited Australia fightback.

While the Chileans are obviously happy with a result that means a win over Spain on Wednesday will see them qualify for the next round, the Socceroos will also be very pleased with their performance and the promise they showed for the future.

That future includes the 2015 Asian Cup, which will be held in Australia for the first time next January. Although teams such as Japan and South Korea are ranked higher than Australia in the FIFA World Rankings, the host country are one of the favourites for the tournament and the World Cup is the perfect testing ground for a side in transition.

Tim Cahill already has his sights set on that tournament. "The Asian Cup in held in Australia is something to be proud of," said Australia's target man. "Having teams from all over the Middle East and Asia and also the potential chance of hopefully lifting some silverware."

Although delighted to be at this World Cup, Aussie coach Ange Postecoglou has had to deal with the retirements of Mark Schwarzer and Brett Holman and the ageing of Cahill, now playing in the MLS with New York Red Bulls.His side is very much in transition and after being drawn in a group of three tournament favourites in Spain, Holland and Chile, Australia's focus on the next tournament became even greater. While the players have said all there right words about believing they can escape the groups, the reality is that Australia 2015 is a much more realistic possibility.

The experience that Australia's youngsters such as Matthew Ryan, Matthew Leckie, Ben Halloran and Ryan McGowan earned against Chile in their opening match could prove vital in the Asian Cup and there were plenty of signs from this Australia side that there is already a fighting spirit, not to mention some quality, in the squad. A relieved Chile side will testify to that.

That relived Chile side are also looking further ahead than the World Cup final on July 13.

Chile will host the 2015 Copa América and will be one of the favourites, just as they are tipped as dark horses in this World Cup. There was plenty of chatter before the tournament about how strong this Chile side was and in any other group they would surely have been certain of progression to the knockout stages.

Being drawn in a group with the two 2010 finalists has certainly not phased the La Roja nor their emphatic manager Jorge Sampaoli. The coach is confident that his team can perform well, but has insisted that his side are not quite World Cup candidates, despite the expectation back at home.

He said: "I think that given the teams we’ll be up against, it's not logical to start thinking that we’re among the candidates to win the World Cup."

Those sound like the words of a man thinking to the future and with a major tournament to host next summer it's no surprise that Sampaoli is not completely focused on the present. Players like Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal are more than capable of challenging at the highest level already, but with one more year of Champions League experience under their belts, the pair should be even stronger next summer.

There are still two very important games for both Chile and Australia in this World Cup Group B. The evidence after the first game, though, is that these two nations show a lot of promise, but may not yet be the finished product.

Brazil is not the only host country with an expectant fanbase in the coming year.

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Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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