AUSTRALIA vs NETHERLANDS, Sydney, 10/10/09
Despite traditionally preferring its football to be played by alternative rules, sports mad Australia is certainly warming to soccer. Despite having been on the international football stage since 1922, Aussies tend to prefer their cricket, rugby, and Aussie rules.
But the Socceroos, as the national team is known, have enjoyed increasing popularity, particularly having qualified back in June for World Cup 2010.
Australia in fact qualified for the World Cup finals on the same day as UFWC title holders the Netherlands. And the Aussies are currently enjoying their highest ever FIFA ranking – 14th, having been ranked as far out as 89th ten years ago. The Socceroos are ranked top in the Asian continental rankings.
Australia have been UFWC champions before, beating the USA 1-0 in 1992 courtesy of a Warren Spink goal to take the title at the first time of asking. The Socceroos lost their next match to Argentina, and have never contested the title since.
The Socceroos were the last side to beat the Netherlands, who are subsequently unbeaten in 12 games. Goals from Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy gave the Aussies a 2-1 victory in Eindhoven last September.
Coincidentally, the Socceroos have a Dutch coach, Pim Verbeek. The current squad includes English Premier League stars Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill, Richard Garcia and Brett Emerton. How many of them will be released to travel to Sydney for a friendly is open to debate – although the match does come four days before a crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Oman.
Title holders the Netherlands, of course, can call on a host of stars from the Premier League and other top leagues. But the Netherlands do not play again until a friendly visit to Italy in November, so how many Dutch stars will travel down under to play the Socceroos?
We’ll have all the build up to the match right here at www.ufwc.co.uk.