Underdog Stories that the Socceroos Can Learn From
It takes more than out and out quality to be successful at the World Cup. Of course, Bert van Marwijk would love to have Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo available to him in Russia but he understands the power of mentality to help get the best out of the talent at his disposal.
Every footballer heading to the World Cup is competitive by nature – it’s how they became one of the best players in their nation – and to get even more out of type-A personalities, it often pays to give them something to prove. That’s why many footballers actually like being the underdogs.
As well as giving footballers something extra to play for, being the underdog also relieves a bit of pressure. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the history of the World Cup is littered with underdogs who did amazing things.
So, what stories of underdogs past can the Socceroos players of today learn? We’ve picked two of the World Cup’s best underdog performances to find out.
The Socceroos Should Try to Enjoy Themselves Like Cameroon in 1990
Pele once famously predicted that an African team will win the World Cup before the year 2000. The Brazilian didn’t exactly get that one right but these days we are used to seeing African teams make a run through to the knockout stages of the World Cup.
That wasn’t the case when Cameroon booked their place in Italia ’90.
The Indomitable Lions were huge underdogs in every match of the group stage but they wasted no time shocking the world by beating Argentina. Led by the brilliance of their talismanic, 38-year-old forward, Roga Milla (are you reading Tim Cahill?).
Cameroon also beat Romania in the group stage before Milla was the hero once again against Colombia.
Milla then played a part in what would have been the biggest shock of the lot against England but they narrowly fell short.
What the Socceroos can learn from Colombia is that they should go about thing their own way, not be scared about the strength of their opposition and try to enjoy their time at the World Cup. If they do this, their chances of qualifying out of Group C a boost at odds of $4.50 with Centrbet.
Van Marwijk Should Let the Players Stick to What They’re Best At
Senegal head to the World Cup believing they have a real chance of making it out of Group H where they are up against Poland, Japan and Colombia. We actually think they have a strong squad and recommend you back them to qualify at $2.35 with William Hill. (Check out more World Cup Free Bets)
Almost nobody was tipping Senegal to qualify from their group in the 2002 final though.
It was their first appearance at the World Cup and they’d been given a stinking group draw alongside Uruguay, Denmark and defending champions, France.
It was against France that Senegal secured their best win. The 1-0 win and Senegal’s run to the last eight came because they knew exactly where their strengths lay. The organised defence and hardworking midfield worked first and foremost to stop the opposition whilst letting their talented attacking players get on with the business of scoring goals.
Van Marwijk should learn to ensure his players stick to what they know and do best.
Senegal manager, Bruno Metsu, also gave young players like El Hadji Diouf their head. Van Marwijk knows his World Cup history and could therefore decide to take a punt on Daniel Arzani and see if he can do something special in Russia.