SYDNEY (AP) — Australia will be returning for its third consecutive World Cup with its toughest assignment to date — Group B matches against defending champion Spain, 2010 finalist Netherlands and Chile.
Despite having a squad containing some new, inexperienced players, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou is undaunted by the task facing him.
"If there is an opportunity there for us to create some headlines and shock the world, we'll take it," Postecoglou said.
Here are five players to watch:
At 34 and playing in his third World Cup, midfielder Tim Cahill is expected to be the heart of the team in Brazil.
Cahill is the all-time leading scorer for the Socceroos with 31 goals, his last two coming in a friendly against Ecuador in London in March.
Playing at The Den, where Cahill started his career with Millwall, Australia led Ecuador 3-0 at halftime but lost 4-3 after goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was sent off in the second half.
Despite the disappointing result, Cahill could not hide his enthusiasm over the team's opening 45 minutes.
"The first half was some of the greatest football I've ever seen from the Socceroos, and I've been around for a long time," he said.
In a team mostly lacking in star power, 29-year-old midfielder Mile Jedinak holds the distinction of being Australia's only currently fit player involved regularly in the Premier League.
The Crystal Palace captain has made 43 appearances for Australia.
Tommy Oar has moved quickly up the football ranks, joining the A-League's Brisbane Roar at the start of the 2008-09 season and being named the best young player in the country the following year.
The 22-year-old winger first played for Australia against Indonesia in 2010 but didn't make it to the World Cup in South Africa. His did score against Japan in a 1-1 draw in last year's qualifiers, however, keeping Australia on course for the World Cup.
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