Recounting the Caltex Socceroos' history at the FIFA World Cup

With many proud FIFA World Cup performances as their inspiration, it's time for a new generation of national team heroes to be made in Russia.

The Caltex Socceroos face a tough assignment if they're to reach the knockout stages next month but, as past involvements show, it's never been an easy ride.

Here, we take a look back on Australia's history at the tournament as our fourth successive appearance at football's greatest event draws near.


History was made when a trailblazing group of 22 part-timers travelled to West Germany for Australia's first FIFA World Cup experience.

Rale Rasic's men performed creditably in a first-up 2-0 defeat to East Germany and were far from disgraced in a 3-0 loss to hosts and eventual champions West Germany.

They would then secure the nation's maiden point in a 0-0 draw against Chile at a sodden Olympiastadion, with Jack Reilly standing tall and Attila Abonyi denied strong claims for a second-half penalty that could have turned one point into three.

  • Australia 0-2 East Germany
  • Australia 0-3 West Germany
  • Australia 0-0 Chile
Socceroos 1974 West Germany
There was no cushy welcome for the Aussies as they faced greats such as Gerd Muller.


It was fitting that after a 32-year wait, Australia would make their return to the FIFA World Cup stage in Germany.

Under the guidance of the masterful Guus Hiddink, the campaign began in unforgettable style as Tim Cahill's stunning brace and a fine stoppage-time finish from John Aloisi stole an exhilarating come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Japan, the Caltex Socceroos' first in the tournament.

A hard-fought 2-0 loss to a star-studded Brazil followed, before another historic milestone was reached in the rollercoaster 2-2 draw with Croatia that secured Australia's passage into the knockout rounds.

That joy turned to pain in the last 16 when a contentious last-gasp penalty from Francesco Totti gave eventual champions Italy a 1-0 win seconds before extra-time and ended a magnificent journey.

  • Australia 3-1 Japan (Cahill 84', 89' Aloisi 90'+2)
  • Australia 0-2 Brazil
  • Australia 2-2 Croatia (Moore p.38' Kewell 79')
Tim Cahill 2006
Tim Cahill wheels away after opening Australia's account on the grand stage.


Pim Verbeek's experienced team came through unscathed from their AFC qualifying adventure but were dealt a dose of reality in the first game of Group D, losing 4-0 to a well-drilled Germany side that struck twice after Tim Cahill's sending off.

Harry Kewell also saw red in the next game against Ghana, but the 10 men hung on for a well-earned 1-1 draw after Asamoah Gyan's penalty cancelled out Brett Holman's early opener.

That set up an all-or-nothing clash with Serbia and though Cahill's expert header and a long-range Holman bullet secured a 2-1 victory, the result wasn't enough to advance as Ghana claimed second on goal difference.

  • Australia 0-4 Germany
  • Australia 1-1 Ghana (Holman 11')
  • Australia 2-1 Serbia (Cahill 69' Holman 73')
Brett Holman
Brett Holman top scored for Australia in South Africa.


Fresh faces, proactive football and removing the ceiling of expectations formed Ange Postecoglou's mantra in Brazil four years ago.

Drawn in the Group of Death, there was no mistaking the size of the task as even a trademark Cahill header couldn't stop an exciting Chile from winning 3-1.

There was to be an even more magical Cahill moment to come in the following meeting with Netherlands, the legendary Caltex Socceroo crashing in an astonishing volley - his fifth FIFA World Cup goal - to immediately cancel out Arjen Robben's opener.

Mile Jedinak would then put Australia ahead from the spot, but that lead was to be the high point of the tournament as the Dutch rallied back to win 3-2, before Postecoglou's men rounded out the tournament with a 3-0 defeat to Spain.

  • Australia 1-3 Chile (Cahill 35')
  • Australia 2-3 Netherlands (Cahill 21' Jedinak p.54')
  • Australia 0-3 Spain
Tim Cahill
Cahill was at it again in 2014.