Brazil's Straw Hat project helps women leave abusive situations
A look at Switzerland's entrenched gun culture
Paddy Higgs | 11 Jun 2014 16:31 GMT | Sport, Football, Latin America, Australia, Brazil
Australian football is accustomed to holding its breath.
There have countless occasions it has needed to do so. The longest gap between inhale and exhale spanned 32 years, from the Socceroos' maiden World Cup appearance in 1974 in West Germany to their reappearance in the same part of the world in 2006.
As it was in 31 countries around the world, the game in Australia held its breath again in December, when the draw for the 2014 World Cup group stage took place. That time, the exhale was a pained one - as well as joining 2010 finalists Spain and the Netherlands in Group B, the Socceroos also drew highly rated Chile.
The coach that led them to Brazil 2014, Holger Osieck, will not be there, having been sacked in October after consecutive friendly thumpings at the hands of Brazil and France. But with Ange Postecoglou in charge, Socceroos are not the only side to be without the man that got them to Brazil. Croatia and South Korea also making changes at the top between qualification and tournament but Australia's prospects at the World Cup do, however, seem the most remote of the three.
June 13 v ChileJune 18 v NetherlandsJune 23 v Spain
Need for change
Gone are a host of 'Golden Generation' members, many of which contributed to the Socceroos' round-of-16-appearance in 2006. In their places is a bunch that is long on enthusiasm but short on experience. It means Australia, who had the third-oldest squad of any at the 2010 World Cup, have the seventh-youngest in Brazil. At 392 caps, the Socceroos have the second-least experienced team in Brazil. Group B opponents and reigning champions Spain, meanwhile, have 1,375.
If fearlessness summed up Australia's 2006 campaign, fear itself is being trumpeted by many a pessimist this time around. Even the most optimistic of fans would hold some trepidation. That familiar feeling is back: Once again, Australian football is holding its breath.
"It's a tough group,” former Socceroo Alan Davidson told Al Jazeera. “They call it the group of death and I understand why. I don't know how much impact we're going to have in the games, as I don't think we'll have too much of the ball. It'll be very tactical.
"I guess the most important thing is that they've got to defend well. They've got a very young defence, so, you know, it's a bit of a catch-22 situation."
Davidson, 54, took part in three failed World Cup qualification campaigns, but can at least count on a Davidson being involved in 2014: his 22-year-old son, Jason, is Australia's first-choice left-back at the tournament.
Davidson Sr freely admits he "might be a bit biased" when it comes to his thoughts on the Socceroos' youth-led revolution. His son, likely to move clubs from Dutch team Heracles after the World Cup, is one of several to have benefited from the appointment of 48-year-old Postecoglou, whose tactical approach with Australian clubs Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory made him a popular figure.
We had a golden generation and they did a fantastic job. But when your time is up, you retire or you get the boot
Alan Davidson, Former Australia international
Among the victims of change are former captain Lucas Neill and fellow experienced defender Luke Wilkshire. Others, like Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and Brett Holman have all retired from national duty. Cultured midfielder Mark Bresciano and irrepressible frontman Tim Cahill, both 34, remain.
"I think the general consensus is that we needed to make a change," Davidson added. "We had a golden generation and they did a fantastic job. But when your time is up, you retire or you get the boot. And they look for new blood and they rebuild again. It's part of the cycle, and no one is immune to being cut when you hit your 30s or mid-30s and they start bringing in the youngsters.
Youth is the future
Davidson, however, believes the decision to favour youth over experience is the right one.
"I dare say that if we had the experienced players or the young players, it was still going to be a tough group anyway," he said. "Hopefully they can swim, (but) maybe a few of them will sink. Only time will tell … I think it's a positive move. Ange is going to be under a lot of scrutiny and criticism or he's going to be under a lot of praise. It's a double-edged sword being the coach of a national team."
Alan Davidson's final words are about his son. But, with the Australian football's new dawn set to break over Brazil, they could just as easily be about the Socceroos: "There is a long road to go, but hopefully it'll be a good road."
Source: Al Jazeera
Brazuca's been co-produced in Pakistan but story of the football goes deeper & wider than the production line.
Longform, Sport, Football, World Cup
After all the protests, security issues and construction delays, the football is all set to take centre-stage.
Sport, Football, Latin America, Argentina, Brazil
Content on this website is for general information purposes only. Your comments
are provided by your own free will and you take sole responsibility for any direct
or indirect liability. You hereby provide us with an irrevocable, unlimited, and
global license for no consideration to use, reuse, delete or publish comments, in
accordance with Community Rules & Guidelines and Terms and Conditions.
Tackling the refugee crisis, Iran nuclear deal, and helping rape victims push candidates towards the coveted prize.
War & Conflict, Human Rights, Norway
Joining the West, Reykjavik imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, but now its fishermen are paying the price.
Politics, Business & Economy, Iceland
The illicit kidney trade in South Asia has exploded as brokers use social media to find donors.
Health, Business & Economy, India
Twice the size of Paris, the open-air Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm offers a unique approach to reforming criminals.
Prisoners, Philippines, Crime
Dozens of Palestinians are injured as a result of the attack, including nine with live ammunition.
National Dialogue Quartet made "decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia", jury says.
Middle East, Tunisia
Follow the incredible journey of Asadullah Rahman, the youngest inmate to be held at Guantanamo Bay.
War & Conflict, Afghanistan, Taliban
People & Power investigates India's Hindu fundamentalists and their influence on the country's government.
India, Politics, Human Rights
We speak to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and ask a former KGB general about Russia's air strikes in Syria.
War & Conflict, Middle East, Israel
Al Jazeera World looks at the neutral nation's entrenched gun culture and the debate about the right to carry weapons.
Gun violence, Europe, Arts & Culture