Watch out: Here come the Socceroos.
Growing up in India where being 'good in sports' was an euphemism for underachieving, we neverthless followed with passion games like cricket, field hockey, and every four years world cup soccer too. We were very up on Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, W. Germany, and England. Name dropping was in: Gary Lineker, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Lotthar Matthaus, Paolo Rossi, Dino Zoff, Mario Kempes, Gabrielle Batustita, Diego Maradona, Zico, Rivaldo, Bebeto, Cesar Sampaio, etc. When the telly finally started beaming those world cup matches, we would stay up all night watching and then argue endlessly on who was better. The verdict was clear: Indian soccer sucked.
Australia was a country very well known to us through cricket and field hockey. At that time the Indian field hockey team was considered pretty good till Ric Charlesworth and Colin Bell's team with the boys from Down Under came and began regularly pasting us. Right now we're pretty much shambolic. In cricket we had our moments against Oz. But there is only so much one can do with teams led by Greg Chapell, Allan Border,Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, and now Ricky Ponting.
What impressed us with Oz was the no prisoners taken attitude of all their players. Indians only like batting and bowling but when it comes to fielding, no one gives a damn. But here were the Aussies diving all over the place, cutting of runs, stopping 4s, making impossible catches, and running players out.They won matches through their fielding. A concept unheard of in Indian cricket. For us It seemed like all out war. For the Aussies it was a day in the office. That was the way they played the game.
I don't doubt for a single moment that this will be the way that they'll play their soccer too in this World Cup. It has been 32 years since they last played but if I've seen what I've seen of their cricket and field hockey teams, then the world better be grateful that it has been given that pause.