As Australians hold their heads in their hands trying to figure out how FIFA managed to royally shaft our national football team, Ange Postecoglou and the Socceroos shuffle on to prepare for upcoming 2014 World Cup opponents Spain, Netherlands and Chile.

Despite being drawn into arguably the most difficult group, some Australian football fans have the idea that the challenge of facing three of the world’s top footballing nations will be positive for Australian football. However, when your team is severely lacking in comparison, facing top teams on football’s biggest platform can have no positive repercussions.

Let’s just knock out the obvious statement right off the top; Australia is not one of the top footballing countries. We should not be expected to beat any of these teams and it would not be a disgrace if we were to finish the tournament with zero points and a goal difference of -8. Spain is the best there is, Holland is filled with talent and Chile is ripe with flare.

Although we are very unlikely to be disgraced, we can still be embarrassed. That embarrassment is unlikely to come on the back of anything the Australian squad does, more so the unrealistic hopes of those overly optimistic figures sitting at home and in the media, currently picking out which style of frames to have their rose-tinted glasses fitted to; that think our team is up to this challenge, if you can call it that.

Generally a challenge is something you can overcome with great difficulty – make no mistake about it, getting out of this group is impossible. This is football and the incredibly, ridiculously unthinkable can sometimes happen but it would take something wild for us to even claim over three points, let alone compile enough to advance to the knockout stage.

To say that facing these teams is good for Australian football is grossly inaccurate. The only way it will be a plus is if we manage to be competitive and the chances of us doing that are incredibly slim. Despite this, certain members of the media continue to pump up our chances of being competitive. All this does is provide a false reflection of where our country is at in comparison to the three great countries we will be facing.

The average non-A-League supporter won’t be persuaded to take an interest in football on the back of three 3-0 defeats, and that’s being generous, when given the message that we will be more competitive than that.

With select members of the media pumping up our chances, Australian football is headed for a severe downfall if the players understandably can’t meet the lofty and unrealistic expectations set by those that are either not educated enough to assess Australia’s position on a national level, or simply like making irrationally outlandish statements.

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It must be remembered that we’re not going to be kicking around a football against the South Morang under-12s here, we are playing three of the best. Spain is ranked first on the FIFA world ranking table with Netherlands and Chile coming in at 9 and 15 respectively. Australia is 59th. Our national team recently suffered two 6-0 friendly defeats to Brazil and France, ranked 10 and 19 respectively, albeit under the management of Holger Osieck.

To further compound just how lacking our squad is in comparison to our drawn opponents, here’s a little bit of player positional word association. Let’s spot the odd ones out. Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Maarten Stekelenburg, Claudio Bravo, Mitch Langerak. Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Gregory van der Wiel, Gary Medel, Lucas Neill. Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (take your pick from a host of monstrous Spanish midfielders), Wesley Sneijder, Arturo Vidal, Tim Cahill. Forwards: David Villa, Robin van Persie, Alexis Sanchez, Robbie Kruse.

The current Australian side is made up of aging first-team players for Australian and Asian clubs, future first-team bench players for European clubs and Tim Cahill. All three of Spain, Holland and Chile feature a host of players that are regular starters in European clubs. The gulf in quality is simply too big to expect us to be competitive.

Australian football will continue to grow and is certainly on the way up, but setting up the national team for an almighty downfall is not going to improve the average Australian’s view on football. The situation is what it is and barring a miracle, we are going to lose to three top footballing nations. However, it needs to be understood that there is no shame in that.

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