For Aus­tralia, it could have been worse

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - MATT WINDLEY

THIS is the group that could see Aus­tralia ad­vance to the knock­out stage of a World Cup for the first time since 2006. France, Den­mark and Peru. It’s no “group of death” like the one we faced in Brazil, where a sec­tion con­tain­ing Spain, the Nether­lands and Chile gave us no chance of mak­ing it out alive.

Four years on, the green and gold army — both play­ers and fans alike — will head to ing would have been long­ing to be drawn in Group A with Rus­sia, Egypt and Uruguay.

That “hon­our” went to Saudi Ara­bia, which pipped us in qual­i­fy­ing and which will now open the tour­na­ment with the world’s eyes upon it.

But Soc­ceroos diehards didn’t have long to await their fate.

The glass half empty view is that we are up against it in a group con­tain­ing the world’s ninth (France), 11th (Peru) and 12th (Den­mark) ranked sides.

But it could have been worse, much worse.

The hard­est game, France, is first up, and there are two mas­sive wins from that fix­ture.

The game will be played in Kazan, where the Soc­ceroos will base them­selves for the tour­na­ment; and it will be at 8pm (AEST) on Satur­day, June 16, a huge boost for the sport here.

The Den­mark game is at 1am on Fri­day, June 22 in Sa­mara and the Peru game at mid­night on Wed­nes­day, June 27 in Sochi. Make no mis­take. The book­ies al­ready have the Soc­ceroos fin­ish­ing bot­tom of this group.

And play­ers, fans and me­dia in each of France, Den­mark and Peru will be rapt to have Aus­tralia as an op­po­nent — they won’t rate us at all.

And while the draw ab­so­lutely could have been kinder to us, we def­i­nitely don’t want to be in the shoes of, say, Iran, which drew Spain and Por­tu­gal and are Buck­ley’s chance of mak­ing it out of the group.

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