So the FIFA World Cup is almost upon us and as excitement levels across the globe build to crescendo levels, here in Australia its strangely muted. Sure there is lots of media coverage of the event and every journalist even remotely associated with football in Australia seems to be on a Brazilian junket, but the general mood on the streets is different.
Its well known that football is not the most popular sport in Australia and this World Cup falls right into the domestic Rugby League and Australian Rules seasons but it’s always been that way so that doesn’t explain the lack of general excitement though. Besides football is on a growth trajectory here with the A-League season that just finished enjoying tremendous domestic success and the news that David Villa will be playing here next season will only enhance this. So could it be the case that Aussies just don’t care about the World Cup? Well no, that’s not it either as the enhanced media covered of Brazil 2014 directly correlates to the new level of interest in the game here. So what’s causing this lack of jovial goodwill amongst Australian sports fans?
The answer stems from Australian’s national obsession with loving winners and quite frankly the 2014 Socceroos aren’t winners and the public knows this and are showing their apathy accordingly. Sure this young, inexperienced and experimental side are the ultimate underdog in a group containing 3 of sides in the Top 15 in the World, but hey who doesn’t love an underdog? Well it seems that Aussies don’t love the underdog when that underdog is their own National team and no one here believes the official word from Coach Ange Postecoglou that the team have any hope of avoiding 3 defeats. Postecoglou and his squad are trying their best to instil some Aussie spirit and grit into our chances with some fighting talk in the lead up to the first game vs Chile on the weekend but again the public isn’t buying it.
The plain facts speak for themselves when you look through the squad list and the fact that only 1 player currently plays in the EPL (Captain Mile Jedinak) and the fact that the vast majority of the squad either play in the lower leagues in England or Germany or play in the A-League. We have a situation where the central defensive pairing will be Matthew Spiranovic and Alex Wilkinson and these 2 will need to contain the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Robin van Persie and David Villa. Only 4 players in the squad have over 30 caps highlights the inexperience of this squad and whilst this has been a deliberate strategy from the hierarchy it again is not filling the people with confidence. FIFA also released its latest World Rankings this week which shows Australia at a very average 61st and clearly the worst team in the World Cup. These facts don’t sit well with the average Joe in Australia at all and this is reflected in the general mood on the street.
The beauty of this situation though is that because everyone has written the team off and is seemingly disinterested in what happens in Brazil if the team can defy all odds and sneak a victory the turnaround in public sentiment will be swift and raucous. So in some ways Australia are in a no-lose situation at this World Cup in that its public have already written off the team and therefore no one will be crestfallen with 3 defeats but by the same token the team will be treated like heroes if they exceed these very low expectations.
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