For the first time in 32 years, Australia qualified for and competed at the FIFA World Cup. On a memorable night in Sydney, the Socceroos faced Uruguay, ranked 18 in the world (Australia was ranked 49 at the time). Taking the game to a penalty shootout, Australia won 4-2 with Australian goal keeper Mark Schwarzer making two saves. The country was united as fans from all backgrounds rejoiced as the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup.
In Germany, placed in Group F, Australia was grouped with Croatia, Japan, and defending champions Brazil. Under the guidance of master coach Guus Hiddinck, the Socceroos defeated Japan 3-1 in their opening game, with Tim Cahill scoring two goals followed by John Aloisi, all in the last eight minutes – to claim their first World Cup finals victory. These goals were the first ever scored by Australia in the World Cup finals, and Australia became the first team in the 2006 tournament to come back after being 1-0 down. No other team has scored three goals in the last eight minutes of a match in World Cup finals history.
FIFA World Cup
Team Members: Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, Craig Moore, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Tony Popovic, Brett Emerton, Josip Skoko, Mark Viduka (captain), Harry Kewell, Stan Lazaridis, Ante Covic, Vince Grella, Scott Chipperfield, John Aloisi, Michael Beauchamp, Archie Tompson, Zeljko Kalac, Joshua Kennedy, Luke Wilkshire, Mile Sterjovski, Mark Milligan, Mark Breschiano