Much has been made of the Socceroos' 2-1 win over Germany on March 29 at Borussia-Park. Sections of the Australian media have seen the win as a turning point for the side, a sign that they are ready to take the next step and really start to challenge the traditional powers of international soccer.
Whilst the upset win is a good sign for the national side, it must be kept in perspective. Speculation that the win means that Australia are ready to make an impact at the business end of the World Cup is foolish, shortsighted and downright embarrassing.
Between the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, the Socceroos played 2010 finalist the Netherlands twice in friendly matches for a 2-1 win away and a 0-0 draw in Sydney, yet they failed to progress past the group stage at the World Cup.
So why does a win over Germany suddenly mean that the Socceroos have turned the corner and are ready to push for greater success?
Germany are one of the best sides in the world, but the fact of it is that the game was a friendly. Whilst the Germans had a near full strength side, key playmaker Mesut Ozil was rested and Miroslav Klose was not introduced until the 72nd minute.
These two were among Germany's best players in South Africa and would have made a definite impact on the result. Although, to be fair, Australia were missing injured talisman Tim Cahill.
What significance does the Socceroos win over Germany hold?
The fact that such a big deal has been made of the result is a sign of where the Australian team currently stand in the context of international soccer. Top sides such as Brazil, Argentina, England and the like would never have so much fuss made about any friendly result.
This is a true indicator of where the Socceroos are at.
This is not to say that there are not positives to take out of the match. The team showed that they are capable, on their day, of matching it with the top teams and finding ways to win when they are outplayed.
This quality has been a trademark of the side for a number of years and is quite possibly their biggest strength. But it will not be enough to push for a World Cup win, where four consecutive wins against high-class opposition are required (not including the group stage).
Another overlooked point is that many of the side that played in the win over Germany will not be around for the 2014 World Cup. Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and Sasa Ognenovski (as well as Cahill) are all at long odds to still be in the national side in three years time.
For Australia to improve on their showing in South Africa, then young players like Robbie Kruse and Tommy Oar need to start getting regular game time.
The Socceroos had a good result against Germany, but the result has been totally blown out of proportion by the Australian media. The win is not the sign of future success that some have made it out to be but merely a stepping stone on the way there.
It was a good win in a friendly—nothing more.