THE OFC Nations Cup. Against the likes of the Solomon Islands, Tahiti and New Caledonia. That is the only title the Socceroos have to their name...
Considering our progress in recent years the desire for a nation with such an all-pervasive winning mentality to triumph in football has never burned brighter. The Asian Cup 2011 could be exactly the tonic to that smoldering desire.
If Australia take out the cup in the early hours of 30 January (local time of course!) it will represent the biggest tournament ever won as a footballing nation. Considering the very small pool of nations to have won the World Cup, you have to wager that the Asian Cup is our only opportunity to lift silverware, at least for the foreseeable future.
Four years ago our first Asian Cup was an embarrassing foray. We basically turned up at the first neighbourhood BBQ with an unearned swagger and duly tripped over the front step, spilling our beer and muddying our snags in the process. After a fortunate draw with Oman (thanks to a last-gasp Cahill equaliser), Iraq convincingly outplayed us in a 3-1 reverse, before Japan knocked us out in the quarters.
We were favourites in 2007 and arrive in Qatar as the confederation's top ranked side once again, but we will be facing a battle-hardened group of teams viewing Australia as the biggest scalp on offer.
Be warned: this will be no cakewalk. When we face so-called easy beats India in our group opener, it will be the biggest game of their lives. And it'll show.
The World Cup will always be the ultimate, but the Asian Cup is still a major piece of silverware that will reward our progression in a strong footballing confederation. Bring it on!
To celebrate our search of major glory, we list the five things joining Asia has done for us...
Major Silverware (Chance Of!)
We've only managed to win a single piece of silverware from our efforts in our new confederation so far, but the reaction to the Matildas Asian Cup triumph gave us a taste of what's to come - hopefully in January! Now the boys have the same opportunity to make a pretty empty Australian football trophy cabinet look slightly fuller. Also factor in the Asian Champions League at club level, and with Adelaide already making a final, it might not be long before an A-League club goes one better.
Proper World Cup preparation
If you had to fight Mike Tyson in July, you wouldn't prepare by having a scrap with Woody Allen in June. That's pretty much what Australia did for decades as we embarrassingly whipped Oceania minnows before facing a footballing giant in a winner takes all play-off. A long grueling passage through Asia may take more out of our European stars, but it allows the team to bond through a series of stringent tests, leaving us better prepared for a battle on the world stage.
The 2015 Asian Cup
A major international football tournament - in Australia. While this magazine will hit shelves the day before the vital 2022 World Cup hosting decision, we can at least be assured the Asian Cup will be hosted here. Though the host of 2015 won't be announced until 6 January, as the sole bidder, we're feeling pretty confident of winning! If we're successful with the 2022 bid, then 2015 will be the perfect dry run for the World Cup. If we haven't been successful then at least we have the Asian Cup as a minor ray of light to make us feel better.
Asian Champions League
Everywhere else in the world the domestic league's finest do battle to prove their worth against their overseas rivals. Joining Asia meant A-League clubs had the opportunity to battle the giants of Asian club football on a regular basis. With Gamba Osaka, Pohang Steelers and Urawa Red Diamonds, there are some genuinely big sides to face in the ACL and when glory does finally come for an A-League side, it is will be some achievement.
Europe's Stepping Stone
There are a number of Australian players who are too good for the A-League but are not ready for European football. We needed a middle-ground. When Australia made the move to Asia, so did our footballers. We now have Josh Kennedy, Matthew Spiranovic and Mark Milligan playing in Japan, Joel Griffiths, Ryan Griffiths and Brendon Santalab playing in China, Sasa Ognenovski and Antun Kovacic in Korea and Jon McKain in Saudi Arabia. This exposure to Asia has allowed our players to develop quicker than at home.