Socceroos get big up from foreign minister

CANBERRA, Australia - Many soccer fans, including people here, have ruled out the Socceroos' chances of going beyond the first round of the 2010 World Cup but Stephen Smith, Australia's foreign minister, believes otherwise.

CANBERRA, Australia - Many soccer fans, including people here, have ruled out the Socceroos' chances of going beyond the first round of the 2010 World Cup but Stephen Smith, Australia's foreign minister, believes otherwise.

Smith is adamant that the Socceroos will go to the next round of the quadrennial spectacle that kicks off in 15 days' time.

The Australians will be the first country to arrive in South Africa for the Fifa World Cup. They are expected to fly in today.

Cornered by Sowetan in Canberra last night at an event to celebrate Africa Day, Smith hopes the team will advance well into the second round.

Smith says the team is raring to go, though he admits that their opponents, especially Germany who they play in the tournament's opener at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on July 13, are in a class of their own.

The Australians, who beat their neighbouring rivals New Zealand 2-1 in an international friendly on Monday, have also been pitted against Serbia and Ghana in Group D.

Despite the victory many Aussie fans were unhappy with their team's performance. It is understood that the Socceroos are likely to play friendlies against Holland and US.

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