Mark Milligan. Photo: Anthony Johnson
On paper it's a daunting task, but Melbourne Victory captain, Mark Milligan - a key part of the Socceroos midfield - and its coach, former international Kevin Muscat, are both excited at the prospect of the underdogs giving some of the world game's best teams a bloody nose.
Milligan will, barring illness, injury or an unexpected loss of form, in all likelihood start in Australia's midfield in its opening game against Chile. He knows that few will give Australia much chance, but says that coach Ange Postecoglou will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the Socceroos are in the best possible shape for the challenges that lie ahead.
''It's one of the very toughest groups of the whole draw. It's really exciting to play against some top quality sides and individuals. It will be a massive challenge but it's something we will all be looking forward to,'' he said on Saturday.
''I know Ange will relish the challenge of preparing us. We will go there with a young and ambitious squad, and if you are going to play those sorts of teams it's a good time for us to do so.''
Milligan has already been in the ear of teammate Pablo Contreras, the former Chilean international, for some clues as to how the South Americans will approach the tournament. ''I am sure Pablo will fill me in. We have had a good chat this morning. They have a lot of things going for them in South America. They will have a very big fan base, so what they lacked in South Africa they will make up for this time.''
Muscat, who scored in Australia's unsuccessful World Cup play-off in 2001 against Uruguay, said: ''It's exciting. It's certainly posed us an interesting group, but the reality is that there's no easy games. It's a cliche, but on the flip side we get to play some great football nations, which is great for our country.''
He doesn't believe the fact that Australia is pitched against high-quality opposition like Chile, Spain and Holland will change the way players approach the tournament.
''If I was still playing, the draw wouldn't motivate me any more or any less. If you are relying on the draw or the next camp to motivate yourself you have probably missed the boat.
''The players should have been super motivated to get into that squad a long time ago.
''Every little milestone that comes along [makes it bigger]. The draw overnight created a lot of waves and the fact that we have drawn some big and proud footballing nations is good for us. It will certainly test the squad and the coaching department.
''One thing is for sure, Ange will certainly know everything about those teams, and he will be making plans and analysing opposition teams and trying … to gain any advantage possible.''