April 11 2001 may not stick in the mind of many but for the Australian nation it was a day that their football team made history, history that still endures 13 years on. And for the 3000 that attended they witnessed something quite remarkable.
Granted the opposition may have been a tiny island nation off the pacific but Australia decided that they fancied a few goals and not one but two records were set, firstly the victory of 31-0 was and still to this day is a world record for a international match, and the second record went to Archie Thompson who by and large was a substitute for most of his international career but on this occasion he scored a remarkable 13 goals which is a tie for the most goals by one person in a competitive match.
With the new rules of fair matchings and seedings and preliminary rounds plus the fact Australia are now part of the Asian qualifying process, results like this are unlikely to surface any time soon, but as ever the Australians always make a noise wherever they go with their vociferous support and despite maybe not being the most talented team around play with a huge amount of passion and fizz, and it's not like they don't produce talented players. Think Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer are just a few names from down the years.
This has been demonstrated in the past three world cups that they have qualified for, and they have showed they are no pushovers even qualifying from the group in 2006 and were seconds away from extra time against Italy before Totti's heartbreaking penalty that sent through the eventual winners.
Unfortunately for them this year the draw hasn't been kind and they were duly dropped into the group of death with the possibility of a match with Brazil should they qualify so it seems unlikely that they will progress this time, but they may see this as a chance to blood the new talent and give them an experience that will only prepare them further.
Their 3-1 defeat to Chile may have seemed a unremarkable result but there was glimpses of what the Socceroos were capable of and that they may not be there for the taking against the European giants that they share a group with.
Admittedly, it did look like Chile would end up with five or six after going 2-0 up in 14 minutes but a trademark leap and bullet header from Tim Cahill out of nothing got them back involved and in the ascendancy, and for periods of the game most notably the last 15 minutes they looked the most likely to score until Chile put it beyond them at the death.
A few players caught the eye and it wasn't all Chileans: the two Australian wingers Oar and Leckie were constant menaces down their respective wings and Leckie a relative unknown showed staggering pace at times combined with strength and skill not reflective to the second tier of German football that he currently plays in. And Tommy Oar who has long been touted as the next breed of Aussie superstar put in a good performance against tough Chilean defenders, he also possesses a good football head as demonstrated by his eight assists for Utrecht last season.
Mark Bresciano and Mile Jedinak are also key components at the heart of midfield both commanding presences, with Bresciano running from deep and linking the play from defence to attack while Jedinak wins the balls around him, these two will be very very busy men against Spain and Holland where they can use their high pressure hard working style of play to help break up the metronome of passing that they will no doubt be required to break down.
Personally I think they wont make it out the group and unfortunately they will finish bottom, although there is spirit and the freedom of being the underdog there is too much ability above them in the group.
However, they have now qualified for three consecutive World Cups and this is seen as progress as their path is slightly tougher than before and I don't think it will be too long before we start seeing Australia in the knockout stages more regularly.
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