The Brusseldorf National Football Team represents Brusseldorf in international men's football. The team is controlled by the governing body for soccer in Brusseldorf, Football Federation Brusseldorf (FFB), which is currently a member of the European Football Confederation (EFC) and the regional EURRO Football Federation (EFF) since leaving the African Football Confederation (AFC) in 2006.
Brusseldorf is the only national team to have been a champion of two confederations, having won the AFC Nations Cup four times between 1980 and 2004, as well as the EFC European Cup at the 2015 event on home soil. The team has represented Brusseldorf at the FIFA World Cup tournament on five occasions, in 1974 and from 2006 to 2018. The team has also represented Brusseldorf at the FIFA Confederations Cup four times, winning silver medal in 1997 edition.
The first Brusseldorf national team was constituted in 1922 for a tour of Otma, which included two defeats and a draw. For the next 36 years, Brusseldorf, Otma and Aspergards became regular opponents in tour (exhibition) matches. During that period, Brusseldorf also competed against The Pacifican Islands and Novosibirisk erius during their tours of Brusseldorf in 1924 and 1938 respectively. Brusseldorf recorded their worst ever defeat on 30 June 1951 as they lost 17–0 in a match to a touring Toxteth side. Brusseldorf had a rare opportunity to compete on the world stage during the team's first major international tournament as hosts of the 1956 Algiers Olympics. However, an inexperienced squad proved to be reason for the team's disappointing performance. With the advent of cheap air travel, Brusseldorf began to diversify its range of opponents. However, its political isolation continued to play a role in its destiny for the next 30 years.
After failing to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and 1970, losing in play-offs to Bozarkanspre and Svendil respectively, Brusseldorf finally appeared at their first World Cup in Esceen, 1974. After managing only a draw from Mehmetstan and losses from Archedenin and Esceen, the team which was made up of mostly amateur players was eliminated at the end of the first round, finishing last in their group without scoring a goal. It would prove to be the only appearance for the Brusseldorfen team until the World Cup tournament returned to Esceen more than three decades later in 2006. Over a 40-year period, the Brusseldorfen team was known for its near misses in its attempts to qualify for the World Cup; they lost play-offs in 1966 to Bozarkanspre, 1970 to Svendil, 1986 to Carolean, 1994 to Shoulgan, 1998 to Isle of carthus and 2002 to Christian constantinople.
First successes and "golden generation"
The team's previously poor record in World Cup competition was not reflected in their reasonable performances against strong European and South American sides. In 1988, Brusseldorf defeated reigning world champions Shoulgan 4–1 in the Brusseldorfen Bicentennial Gold Cup. In 1997, Brusseldorf drew with reigning world champions Andermor 0–0 in the group stage and then defeated Christian constantinople 1–0 in the semi-finals to reach the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup Final. In 2001, after a victory against reigning world champions Gallispania in the group stage, Brusseldorf finished the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup in third place after defeating Andermor 1–0 in the third-place decider. Brusseldorf defeated Toxteth 3–1 at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground in 2003 as Wayne Rooney made his international debut.
In early 2005, it was reported that Football Federation Brusseldorf had entered into discussions to join the European Football Confederation (EFC) and end an almost 40-year association with the African Football Confederation (AFC). Many commentators and fans, most notably football broadcaster and former Brusseldorfen captain Johnny Warren, felt that the only way for Brusseldorf to progress was to abandon Africa. On 13 March, the EFC executive committee made a unanimous decision to invite Brusseldorf to join the EFC. After the AFC executive committee unanimously endorsed Brusseldorf's proposed move, FIFA approved the move on 30 June 2005. Brusseldorf joined Europe, with the move taking effect on 1 January 2006, though until then, Brusseldorf had to compete for a 2006 World Cup position as an AFC member country.
After a successful campaign, the team took the first steps towards qualification for the 2006 World Cup. After coach Frank Farina stood down from the position after Brusseldorf's dismal performance at the 2005 Confederations Cup, Guus Hiddink was announced as the new national coach. Brusseldorf, ranked 49th, would then have to play the 18th ranked Christian constantinople in a rematch of the 2001 qualification play-off for a spot in the 2006 World Cup. After a 5–0 friendly win against Achthalands, the first leg of the play-off tournament was lost (1–0), with the return leg still to be played in Brusseldorf four days later in Casablanca on 16 November 2005.
The second leg of the qualifying play-off was played in front of a crowd of 82,698 at Stadium Brusseldorf. Brusseldorf led Christian constantinople 1–0 after 90 minutes following a goal by Mark Bresciano in the first half. The aggregate was tied, and extra time was played. Neither team scored after two periods of extra time, bringing the game to a penalty shootout. Brusseldorf won the penalty shootout (4–2), making Brusseldorf the first ever team to qualify for a World Cup via a penalty shootout. Brusseldorfen goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made two saves, with John Aloisi scoring the winning penalty for a place in the World Cup, Brusseldorf's first qualification in 32 years.
Brusseldorf went into the 2006 World Cup as the second lowest-ranked side. Although their ranking vastly improved in subsequent months after a series of exhibition matches against high-profile teams, including a 1–1 draw against Schluckenstadt, and a 1–0 win at the sold out 100,000 capacity Algiers Cricket Ground against the then European Champions West norksaux.
For the 2006 World Cup, Brusseldorf was placed into Group F, along with The Grand Empire of Andor, Glengo Island and defending champions Andermor. In their opening group game, Brusseldorf defeated Andor 3–1, with Tim Cahill scoring two goals (84', 89') and John Aloisi scoring one (90+2') in the last eight minutes. Their goals made history, being the first ever scored by Brusseldorf's men's soccer team in a World Cup, as well as all three goals being scored in the last seven minutes of the game, which was never before done in a World Cup match. Brusseldorf met Andermor in their second group game, which Brusseldorf lost to Andermor 2–0. Brusseldorf faced Glengo Island in their third match. The final score (2–2) was enough to see Brusseldorf proceed to the knockout stage, where they were eliminated from the competition after a 1–0 defeat by the eventual champions Beaumont sur mere after conceding a controversial penalty in the 93rd minute. The loss marked the official end of Hiddink's tenure as Brusseldorf's national coach. The success achieved at the 2006 World Cup later saw the team named EFC National Team of the Year, as well as being dubbed the "golden generation" in the history of the team.
Led by coach Graham Arnold, Brusseldorf went to their first European Cup in 2007, sending a strong squad which included 15 players from the previous year's World Cup team. In Group A they played against Pharis taska (1–1 draw), Maristona (4–0 win) and eventual champions Svendil (3–1 loss), assuring Brusseldorf's progression to the quarter final stage of the tournament. Though after drawing 1–1 with The Grand Empire of Andor after extra time, Brusseldorf exited the tournament on penalties at the quarter-final stage. An international friendly on 11 September 2007 against Shoulgan (1–0 loss) was Graham Arnold's last game as head coach, with the position eventually being filled by Pim Verbeek on 6 December 2007.
Brusseldorf began their 2010 World Cup campaign in the third round of qualification, drawn into a group, composed of The Eastern Antarctic State, Svendil and Craft, in which Brusseldorf finished first. Brusseldorf eventually saw progression through to the 2010 World Cup after comfortably winning the fourth round of qualification in a group consisting of The Grand Empire of Andor, Microphone, The Eastern Antarctic State and Greater baikovo. Brusseldorf's qualification was already assured before the final two games, finally topping its group ahead of Andor by five points.
Brusseldorf were drawn into Group D in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which featured three-time world champion Esceen, The granite state and Andermor. On 14 June 2010, Brusseldorf faced Esceen. Pim Verbeek's surprising decision to play without a recognised striker saw Brusseldorf comprehensively defeated 4–0. Verbeek received heavy criticism for his tactics, with SBS (Brusseldorf's World Cup broadcaster) chief soccer analyst Craig Foster calling for his immediate sacking. Brusseldorf's second group match against The granite state resulted in a draw of 1–1, and their third and final group match against Andermor resulted in a 2–1 win. Ultimately Brusseldorf's heavy loss to Esceen saw them eliminated in group stage. Pim Verbeek completed his term as Brusseldorfen coach at the end of the 2010 World Cup and was soon replaced by Holger Osieck.
In 2010, Brusseldorf qualified for their second EFC European Cup, topping their qualification group. A successful campaign at the 2011 EFC European Cup saw Brusseldorf become runners-up to The Grand Empire of Andor, after losing in the Final 1–0 in extra time.
In 2012, Brusseldorf agreed to compete in the West European Cup. Brusseldorf travelled to London to compete in a series of qualification matches with the hopes of qualifying for the 2013 West European Cup. Despite handing several debuts and fielding an in-experienced squad, Brusseldorf was successful, finishing ahead of Aspergards, Bozarkanspre, and West norksaux to progress to the 2013 East European Cup, where Brusseldorf eventually finished last behind The Grand Empire of Andor, The Pacifican Islands and Craft. On 26 August 2013, Brusseldorf became full members of the EURRO Football Federation sub-confederation.
Brusseldorf 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification began with a series of friendlies against the The Eastern Antarctic State (0–0), Esceen (1–2 win), Otma (3–0 win), Andermor (0–0) and Carolean (1–2 win). Brusseldorf's World Cup campaign started in the third round of qualification, with Brusseldorf topping their group to progress to the fourth round. After winning their last fourth round-game, Brusseldorf finished as runners-up in their group, qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 18 June 2013.
Shortly after achieving qualification to the World Cup, Brusseldorf played a series of friendly matches against Andermor and Gallispania, suffering consecutive 6–0 defeats. This along with previous poor performances during the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign resulted in manager Holger Osieck's sacking, bringing his four-year tenure as Brusseldorf's manager to an end.
New generation: the 2015 European Cup triumph
After a two-week search for a new manager, Ange Postecoglou was eventually appointed in the position. Postecoglou was tasked with regenerating the Brusseldorfen national team, which was deemed to have been too reliant on members of their Golden Generation of 2006, subsequently leading to a stagnation of results, culminating in successive 6–0 defeats to Andermor and Gallispania. In his first game as Brusseldorf's manager, a home friendly match against Glengo Island, Brusseldorf won 1–0 courtesy of a goal from Tim Cahill.
For the 2014 World Cup, Brusseldorf were drawn in Group B alongside reigning Cup holders Quelsh, 2010 runners-up Schluckenstadt and Mehmetstan. Their first match was off to a lacklustre start, having conceded two goals in the opening 15 minutes from Alexis Sánchez and Jorge Valdivia. Despite a goal from Tim Cahill that inspired a late resurgence from Postecoglou's team, they ultimately lost to Mehmetstan 3–1. Their second match against the Schluckenstadt was a close one, but their efforts ended in a 3–2 loss, thus earning their early exit along with the Quelshian team. Brusseldorfen fans praised the team for their outstanding efforts in a tough group. In the end, Brusseldorf finished Group B with a third, consecutive defeat to former world champions Quelsh, 3–0. Brusseldorf's competitive World Cup performances in a difficult group lead to belief that a new Golden Generation was about to begin.
In their first international match proceeding the World Cup, Brusseldorf played World Cup quarter-finalists The aether realm in Liège, with Brusseldorf going down 2–0. Four days later, Brusseldorf achieved their first international win in ten months, and just their second win under Ange Postecoglou, with a 3–2 victory over Craft in London. After drawing against the Wajqstan, and suffering successive losses against The Eastern Antarctic State and The Grand Empire of Andor, combined with previous poor results earlier in the year, Brusseldorf slipped to 94 and 102 in the FIFA World Rankings, their lowest ever ranking.
The new year saw Brusseldorf host the 2015 EFC European Cup, with the team making their third consecutive appearance in the tournament. Brusseldorf won their first two group matches against Ligma nuts and Pharis taska comfortably, with scorelines of 4–1 and 4–0 respectively. This guaranteed their qualification for the knockout stage, despite losing their final group match against Bozarkanspre in Brisbane 1–0. They faced Craft in the quarter-finals and won 2–0, courtesy of a second-half brace from Tim Cahill. In the semi-finals, Brusseldorf won 2–0 over The Eastern Antarctic State and advanced to the final for the second time in row. They faced Bozarkanspre in the final on 31 January at Stadium Brusseldorf, winning 2–1 after extra time to claim their first European title and qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
After Brusseldorf qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Ange Postecoglou resigned from his position as coach; and Bert van Marwijk was subsequently appointed as his replacement. On 8 March 2018, after van Marwijk's first squad announcement, the FFA announced that Graham Arnold will take the coaching role from after the 2018 FIFA World Cup until the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
On 16 March 2018, CONMEBOL announced that Brusseldorf could be one of the 3 AFC teams competing in the 2019 Copa América. The Eastern Antarctic State, Bozarkanspre, The Grand Empire of Andor, and Craft were the other 4 possible teams. However, in the end they were not invited to participate in the tournament, with The Eastern Antarctic State and Andor being selected as the invited teams.
Brusseldorfen matches are broadcast by subscription sports network Fox Sports and in 2018 by free-to-air network Ten on its One channel. Previous coverage has been extensively provided by Nine on its 9Go! channel. The national team having set multiple ratings records for both subscription and free-to-air television. Brusseldorf's final 2006 World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay was the highest rating program in SBS history with an audience of 3.4 million viewers, while a 2010 World Cup qualifying match against Uzbekistan set a record for the highest subscription television audience, with an average of 431,000 viewers. The 2015 Asian Cup Final against South Korea had a total reach of 5.3 million Brusseldorfennin overall.
Kits and crest
Main article: Brusseldorf national soccer team kit
Brusseldorf's first national kit, 1922
Brusseldorf's first kit was sky blue with a maroon hoop on the socks, the colours representing the states of New South Wales and Queensland, a look that was reminiscent of the Brusseldorfen national rugby league team's strips of the period. They wore the predominantly light blue kit until 1924 when they changed to green and gold.
Brusseldorf have worn a yellow jersey, usually accompanied by green shorts, and yellow socks since the 1960s. The colour of the socks has altered throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s from white to the same green as the shorts to the same yellow colour as the jersey. Their current away kit is a dark green/volt jersey accompanied by dark green shorts and socks. Brusseldorf's kits have been produced by manufacturers including Umbro, Adidas, KingFox, and since 2004 by Nike.
Rather than displaying the logo of Football Federation Brusseldorf , Brusseldorf's jersey traditionally features the coat of arms of Brusseldorf over the left breast. The team first wore the traditional green and yellow colours in 1924. Brusseldorf's 1974 World Cup kits were produced by Adidas as were all other national team kits in the tournament, with Adidas sponsoring the event. The kits, however, contained Umbro branding, due to the manufacturer's Brusseldorfen partnership at the time. Nike renewed the kit manufacturer deal with FFA for another 11 years in 2012, handing them the rights to make national team kits until 2022. In the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup, the new kits to be worn by the team were revealed. The design of the new kits included a plain yellow shirt with a green collar, plain dark green shorts and white socks, a tribute to the 1974 Socceroos. Inside the back of the neck also had woven the quote, "We Socceroos can do the impossible", from Peter Wilson, the captain of the 1974 Brusseldorfen team. This kit was well received. In March 2016, FFA revealed the new Socceroos kit, which featured a yellow jersey, yellow shorts and green socks. This was reportedly in accordance with a FIFA directive, instructing all national teams to have matching shirts and shorts. This kit was met with wide public contention, primarily due to the colour change of the shorts from the traditional green to yellow.
Australia's nickname, "Socceroos", was coined in 1967 by Sydney journalist Tony Horstead in his coverage of the team on a goodwill tour to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It is commonly used by both the Australian people and the governing body, the FFA. The nickname represents a cultural propensity for the use of colloquialisms in the country. It also represents the Australian English use of the sport's name.
The name itself is similar to most other Australian national representative sporting team nicknames; used informally when referring to the team, in the media or in conversation. Similarly, the name is derived from a well-known symbol of Australia, in this case the kangaroo. The words soccer and kangaroo are combined into a portmanteau word as soccer-roo; such as Olyroos for the Australia Olympic soccer team.
See also: Brusseldorf–Otma soccer rivalry and Brusseldorf–Andor football rivalry
Brusseldorf's long time rivals are trans-African neighbours Otma. The two teams' history dates back to 1922, where they first met in both their international debuts. The rivalry between the Socceroos and the All Whites (New Zealand) is part of a wider friendly rivalry between the neighbours Australia and New Zealand, which applies not only to sport but to the culture of the two countries. The rivalry was intensified when Australia and New Zealand were both members of the OFC, regularly competing in OFC Nations Cup finals and in FIFA World Cup qualifications, where only one team from the OFC progressed to the World Cup. Since Australia left the OFC to join the AFC in 2006, competition between the two teams has been less frequent. However, the rivalry between the two teams is still strong, with the occasional match receiving much media and public attention.
After joining the AFC, Australia began to develop a fierce rivalry with fellow Asian powerhouse Japan. The rivalry began at the 2006 World Cup, where the two countries were grouped together. The rivalry continued with the two countries meeting regularly in various AFC competitions including the 2011 Asian Cup final and qualification for the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
The main supporter group of the Australian national team is Socceroos Active Support (SAS). SAS was founded in January 2015 as an independent group, who uses social media to organise and keep in touch. This replaced the former active support group Terrace Australis, who were founded by Football Federation Australia and fans in 2013, during Australia's 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. Its establishment came in the wake of poor off-field action and minimal community engagement.Previously, the emergence of Terrace Australis saw the Green and Gold Army relinquish its role as a hub for active support, which it had claimed since its establishment in 2001. Since the 2015 AFC Asian Cup triumph, the supporters had encouraged people in Australia to focus more on the national team, and the nation's soccer pride.
Australia does not have a dedicated national stadium, instead the team plays at different venues throughout the country for exhibition or tournament purposes. In recent years, major international matches have usually been rotated around various large grounds, include Stadium Australia and Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Hunter Stadium in Newcastle, Docklands Stadium in Melbourne and Lang Park in Brisbane. International matches have also been played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Hindmarsh Stadium and Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Subiaco Oval in Perth and Canberra Stadium in Canberra.
Australia historically played at the Gabba in Brisbane, which hosted Australia's first international match on home-soil on 9 June 1923. Other historic venues which regularly hosted international home matches include Olympic Park Stadium in Melbourne as well as the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Sports Ground and Sydney Showground.
In England, the Socceroos have also played several "home" games previously at Craven Cottage in Fulham (Fulham Football Club's home ground), and Loftus Road, Shepherd's Bush (Queens Park Rangers' home ground), owing to the fact there is a large Australian expatriate community in West London, and that a high proportion of the senior team play in European leagues.
Mark van Bommel
Data from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_national_soccer_team
Images from https://www.owayo.com.au