Canberra, Dec 2: Australia assistant coach Ante Milicic believes the team can progress to the knockout stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup following the group stage draw.
Australia was drawn in Group C at a ceremony in Moscow on Friday night alongside former World Cup winners France, Denmark and Peru, reports Xinhua news agency.
All three opponents are ranked inside the top 12 in FIFA’s global rankings but both Peru and Denmark endured patchy form during qualification.
“We will treat all opponents with respect, but these games, we will have a focus on what we can do,” Milicic told Fairfax Media on Saturday.
“We believe in ourselves. This group believes they can put a good performance in all three games consistently to achieve our goal, which is to get out of the group … it’s a difficult group (but) we believe in ourselves and definitely (can) advance, progress from the group.”
Despite qualifying for the World Cup, Australia manager Ange Postecoglou resigned in November leaving the team without a coach as it begins its preparations for Russia.
Sydney Football Club coach Graham Arnold and Argentina’s Marcelo Bielsa, who most recently coached Lille in France, are the reported frontrunners for the job but the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has said it will not rush the decision.
Of the Group C teams, France are the only team which secured automatic qualification for the World Cup with Denmark, Peru and Australia all winning play-offs against Ireland, New Zealand and Honduras respectively.
Australia will play tournament fancies France first on June 16, followed by Denmark on June 22 and Peru on June 26.
They will hope to secure draws against France and Denmark, keeping them alive in the tournament for the Peru game.
Australia have made the round of 16 just once, in 2006, where they were defeated by eventual champions Italy.
“It’s normal you want to be alive when it comes to the last game. I think we have built a great deal of depth now in the squad and to be successful at these tournaments, that’s what you need to progress with playing such a high-class opposition, high-tempo games,” Milicic said.
“We’ve grown as a team. Not only in terms of our squad but when you look at the players that are now playing regularly in Europe, a lot of those players that have been successful for us have added 20 caps to their experience. That means a lot.”