Facts & figures: Australia

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Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Australia: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: Two

Best performance: Round of 16, 2006

Coach: Pim Verbeek. The Dutchman served with South Korea as Guus Hiddink's assistant at the 2002 World Cup and as assistant to Dick Advocaat for the 2006 World Cup.

As head coach, he led South Korea to third place at the 2007 Asian Cup before joining the Socceroos. His record since taking over has been impressive but he has nonetheless been criticised for employing a no-frills, defensive style of game.

Key players:

Tim Cahill (Everton). Age: 29. Midfielder.

Australia's most exciting and consistent match-winner. Scored twice in Australia's win over Japan at the 2006 World Cup and has been scoring crucial goals for his country ever since.

Lucas Neill (Everton). Age: 31. Defender.

Made his debut for Australia in 1996 when he was 18 and has risen to the ranks of national captain. A vastly experienced player from almost a decade in England.

Mark Schwarzer (Fulham). Age: 37. Goalkeeper.

Australia's most capped player with 73 international appearances. Played most of his club football with Middlesbrough but now with Fulham.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 21

How they qualified: After spending years struggling to advance through various play-offs as Oceania champions, Australia sailed through their first qualifying series since joining the Asian Football Confederation. In their final phase of qualifying, they were undefeated and conceded just one goal from eight matches and were the second team in the world to qualify for South Africa.

Prospects: Australia made it to the last 16 in 2006 and could make it to the second round again this time. They have enough experienced players to trouble any opponents but possibly lack the depth required to advance deep into the tournament.