Another early exit for Socceroos at the World Cup

A crying woman embraces Australia's Jackson Irvine at the end of the group C match between Australia and Peru, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

For Australian soccer and its fans, it was an all-too-familiar result.

Those Down Under who didn’t stay up to watch the World Cup woke up Wednesday to the inevitable news that their Socceroos failed to make it past the group stage for the third consecutive tournament.

Caretaker coach Bert van Marwijk’s tenure is over after the Australians lost 2-0 to Peru in their last group game and slumped to last place in a tough Group C which also included France and Denmark. The match began at midnight on Australia’s east coast.

Veteran striker Tim Cahill finally took the field in the 53rd minute for his first action in Russia but couldn’t score a goal in his fourth consecutive World Cup.

The worst news to come out of the tournament was that Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout requires a shoulder reconstruction and will miss the next six months. Nabbout is flying to Melbourne to have surgery after dislocating his right shoulder in Australia’s draw with Denmark last week.

”I have been told the rehab is about six months,” Nabbout said after missing the loss to Peru. ”It’s a painful one but hopefully I can make it back in less and be ready for the Asian Cup (next year).”

Australia had its preparations for the World Cup affected by the resignation of Ange Postecoglou as coach shortly after the Socceroos qualified for Russia. Van Marwijk was hired to coach for the World Cup only, and Graham Arnold will soon take over as a fulltime coach.

”Agony,” the Daily Telegraph in Sydney said in the headline. It also showed a picture of Cahill touching a goalpost and wondering if it is was his final goodbye to the sport.

Dan Colasimone of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said van Marwijk may have made the Socceroos too one-dimensional.

”In the end, van Marwijk talked a good game – when he spoke to the media at all – but he could not deliver one win at the World Cup for Australia, let alone qualification for the next round,” Colasimone said. ”The line Van Marwijk and his players repeated ad nauseam, in lieu of any clear public discussion of plans or formations or tactics, was that this side was built to deal with any situation, any opposition. Yet it was only really built to limit damage against superior sides.”

”Not our night,” the Socceroos said in a tweet. ”Australia, thank you for being with us on every step of the journey.”

Unfortunately for the Australians, a journey that has ended with elimination in the group stage for the past three tournaments.