‘Next-gen’ news from E3

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By , 10/11/2018 22:15

Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain.E3 2013: press conference round-up – part 1

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is officially over, and what a week it was. Many of the games mentioned here will have longer stories coming, as I got to sit down and either play them or see a behind-closed-doors preview.

The first official day kicked off with four press conferences in a row from 9am to 8pm. It can be a bewildering experience, as publishers bombard you with new products, videos and buzzwords such as “innovative”. I was there to sort through the mess and find out what these releases mean for the “next-gen” consoles.


The day started with Microsoft’s highly orchestrated and expensive-looking show. Amid a few technical hiccups, it showcased some interesting prospects for a company many pre-emptively bemoaned as having no games.

Microsoft specifically said it would be showing the majority of its titles and E3 and delivered on the promise. Project Spark was a delightful surprise, but the technology on show in Battlefield 4, Forza and Dead Rising was particularly interesting.

The long, detailed trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain made some very large promises. It also already looks like it will be able to deliver. For the first time in a MGS game, they’ve added an open-world. Story details are still a little sketchy but we saw some characters and locations that would feature. A huge world with dynamic lighting, emergent stealth gameplay and open play-styles: yes please.

Microsoft was quick to mention that it would be continuing to support the 360, with several games still in development for the console. It also announced that World of Tanks, the popular PC game, would be coming to 360. And, long-time gold users would be getting free older games for their support of the platform, the first two being Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3. (I have to mention that this is a service that PlayStation already have in effect.)

The first next-gen game shown was the long-delayed Ryse, which now looks better than it ever did while it was supposed to be on Kinect. You play as Roman legionnaire Marius Titus and the combat looked brutal and interesting. It’s a shame it was riddled with quick-time event finishers, though. As an example of the Xbox One’s processing power, the number of elements and characters on screen at one time was impressive, but it will need to be more than a tech demo to make a lasting impression.

Another flashy trailer was for the newly announced Sunset Overdrive. A bright, orange-hued cinematic trailer showed a lanky character free-running across rooftops and fighting mutant monsters with a variety of weapons. The trailer also featured players working together, which would hint at multiplayer. It’s hard to say how it plays, but I will keep an eye out for it on the show floor.

The classic fighting series Killer Instinct will also be coming to the Xbox One. Some gamers will already know what to expect from the previous games, but for those that don’t, it’s a fantasy-style fighting game with a violent, cartoon-y bent. Somewhat along the lines of Mortal Kombat, but without the brutality.

Xbox also mentioned that it would release an arcade stick peripheral to coincide with it, as many gamers prefer the classic arcade controls. I got to play a demo of the game with the arcade stick at an Xbox One event later that night. The two characters on display were fine but the arcade stick felt flimsy and not responsive enough to make it worthwhile for a fighting game. These were prototypes, but if the final iteration is the same, expect some annoyed fighting-game purists.

Predictably, Forza Motorsports 5 was on show. As a tech demo, the game looks amazing, with cars looking more car-like than ever before, but once again, it all depends on how it plays. I didn’t get time to play the game throughout the week as the Microsoft booth was obscenely packed, but expect more on this in the lead-up to the Xbox One’s November launch

Unsurprisingly, Minecraft will also be coming to the Xbox One. We didn’t get many details, but the trailer looked predictably block-shaped. It also promised “bigger maps” and “more multiplayer” – whatever that means in a Minecraft context.

Finally, we started to get into some new IPs. Quantum Break was flagged at the first Xbox One conference, but this was the first time we got any idea about what it is. Presumably a shooter, but with time manipulation elements. It will also tie into a television aspect. The trailer shown looked to be a cut scene from some point in the game, with our protagonist walking into a room that had an explosion frozen in mid air. There were a massive number of individual parts hanging in the air, which all began to move when the explosion started up again. Expect some next-gen explosions – but we will have to see about how it plays.

If one of the more interesting games announced works like they say, it’ll be amazing. Project Spark got a short gameplay video to show off what it can do. The premise is making your own games with the tools available. At first there wasn’t much to get excited about apart from some simple environment control tools. But soon the demonstrator had given a rock some simple AI and made it start fighting goblins he generated. To take it up a notch, another player joined the game and together they fended off a goblin invasion by throwing fire around and turning the rock companion into a rock mech and blasting those filthy greenskins. If it can deliver the level of user-generated experience it seems to promise, this might actually be a big plus for Xbox One.

Finally! Another Dead Rising game. This time with a different protagonist in a different setting. Technologically, the gameplay shown was a great way to illustrate the number of elements the Xbox One could handle running at one time. Seeing thousands of zombies shamble towards me gets my chainsaw arm itching. Seemingly, weapon combinations and co-op are making a return as well.

A new trailer for the Witcher 3 was shown. It wouldn’t mean much to those not familiar with the series, but check back soon as I will be writing a full story about the 40-odd minutes of gameplay I got to see upstairs in the tiny CD Projekt Red booth. RPG fans should start getting excited now.

Though not an Xbox One exclusive, Microsoft showed off some of Battlefield 4’s single-player campaign. While the single player was not the highlight of Battlefield’s third entry, this one at least looks like it will put its new engine to good use. Fighting their way out of a ship as it broke in half, DICE look like they’ve really upped their game on the grandeur of destruction they hold so dear. (I got to play some of the BF4 multiplayer later in the week, so keep an eye out for a story on that.)

Microsoft brought up the name Black Tusk studios and did a teaser for a nameless, sci-fi game running on the Xbox One engine. The demo certainly had the visuals down, but didn’t give us any details about gameplay, character or setting, besides the fact that it’s at least partially in a city. It’s a bit of a cop-out, frankly, to show one minute of tech demo when you’re asking players to invest long-term in your product.

Possibly the biggest, but least surprising, announcement was a short CGI trailer for a new Halo game in the core series. Oddly, it didn’t have the number five after the name, meaning it could be given a secondary name instead. Expect impressive graphics but a familiar gameplay experience. I couldn’t help but wonder why a man in a Spartan armour suit would need to wear a cloak in the desert, but maybe that will be explained later. (Perhaps sand gets stuck up in his cracks?)

As a last nod to next-gen games, Microsoft showed a trailer and some short gameplay from their new exclusive Titanfall. The footage at EA’s press conference was longer and had more details, but as an indicator of the tone, the footage seemed very exciting. Giant, agile mechs squashing puny humans is all right by me.

Microsoft certainly knew that gamers were perturbed about its television focus at the announcement event, and filled the press conference with trailers. Though there wasn’t much in the way of surprises. Halo, Quantum Break, Dead Rising 3 and Project Spark were nice to see, but in terms of wow-factor, Quantum Break was the only game there to seemingly be trying something new.

Microsoft seems very comfortable in the niche it has cut out for itself, but in wilfully ignoring its fan-base to implement always-online DRM, then not addressing it, it seems bull-headed. Expect to see some retractions or changes in policy before release, especially after the reaction at the Sony conference.


EA, the home of almost every sport game known to man, showed 11 titles in the beautiful Shrine Auditorium with a ruthlessly unforgiving light-show at the beginning and accompanying brain-melting dubstep. However, nothing can diminish the enthusiasm and relaxed charm of Peter Moore, EA’s chief executive, and he led with a new entry into the hugely popular Plants vs Zombies series. EA did a good job showcasing its games with trailers and a comparatively small amount of PR buzz words.

In contrast to Microsoft’s sound cut-outs, EA had its speakers set to 11. Then 12 through to 15, occasionally making some of the trailers’ moments hard to discern from one another. Still, EA obviously know it’s at the mercy of its fans and finally took this moment to announce a long-awaited, new Star Wars: Battlefront game and the sequel to Mirror’s Edge.

In a pleasant surprise, the guys from PopCap games came out to announce a third-person sequel to their hugely popular iOS game Plants vs Zombies. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is a four-player co-op third-person game. It showed a horde mode where players acted as the plants with different specialities, like melee or long-range, but we didn’t see if there would be a story mode or any other.

Even for a game with stylised cartoon-y visuals, you can see the difference in a next-gen engine. It certainly looks fun, but I’ll have to seek it out on the show floor to say for sure. PopCap’s chief executive also popped back out to briefly announce Peggle 2, but didn’t give any other details. How much more can you do with Peggle?

After a well-publicised split from Infinity Ward, Jason West and Vince Zampella founded Respawn Entertainment. At the EA press conference, they announced their new company’s first game, Titanfall, an FPS mix of human and mech combat. At first, the video they showed didn’t seem too different from the FPS games we’re used to, but the footage soon ramped up the madness.

Taking cues from modern military exo-skeleton technology, Respawn have made super-agile, gigantic robots that come up against other robots and their human pilots. It looks like an interesting combination of sizes and abilities to make both experiences look different. It also looks like it will heavily encourage team-based tactics.

Andrew Wilson, the head of EA Sports, came out to introduce the new engine all of EA’s next-gen sport games will be running off, the Ignite Engine. He touted human-like AI, dynamic player motion and a living world as the most exciting features of the engine. I couldn’t help but feel like he was liberally applying the marketing spiel of the next iteration of a similar engine to what already exists. The games certainly look nice, but all the next-gen graphics I’ve seen seem to look pretty as standard. A little more gameplay and fewer jump-cut laden trailers might have helped sell the idea more.

On the subject of EA’s sport games, we saw NBA Live 14 (introduced by Kyrie Irving), Madden NFL 25, Fifa 14 and UFC. I understand it’s hard to sex up the footage of a new NBA or Madden game, but dragging out reluctant sports stars is not the way to do it. Hopefully, you can show the game in some form and the gamers you’re aiming at will be sold.

NBA Live 14 touted the hilariously named BounceTek as the newest form of dribbling technology. Making the ball an independent AI from the character (as opposed to the current NBA games where it is locked to the player holding it) will probably help create some exciting randomness to the ball physics. EA also claimed that its online stat service would gather up-to-date player stats hourly so that the game reflects changes to the players as soon as they play. This feature is for the hardcore basketball fans and will probably go down well with them.

Madden NFL 25, on the Xbox One and PS4, certainly looks nice. But nice graphics alone won’t be enough to impress. Both Madden and Fifa seem to be concentrating a lot on the physics of the players and their animations. Their players now react realistically to unexpected situations and can jump around and slide past others. For some reason, Microsoft felt the need to wheel out musician Drake to say how much he likes Fifa. It seemed like an odd decision and he was the most out-of-place of the celebrities brought out on stage. The games still stand up for themselves though, and giving the characters intelligent decision-making abilities and a fancy new engine is more than enough to sell them.

The UFC trailer didn’t have too much in the way of gameplay, but the same principles apply from its other sports games. Visually impressive and highly detailed, my only detraction would be that they repeatedly said the full body “deformation” was 100 per cent authentic and as close to a real punch as has ever been possible. I certainly hope not.

The other interesting engine that was introduced was Frostbite 3, the next-gen sequel to the existing Battlefield 3 engine (and many other games). One of the best teasers for it was a very short trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront. Hugely anticipated by gamers, we didn’t really get any details apart from the fact that it would presumably feature the Hoth level the trailer was set on. Here’s hoping it’s not a mobile game, because EA really have the time and budget to make something that trumps the first two. Especially if it’s on next-gen.

Inevitably, there was a Need for Speed announced for next-gen too. We even saw some gameplay from “Rivals”. Seemingly, it will take advantage of the seamless multiplayer integration a lot of the next-gen games are aiming for. From what we saw, it pits players against each other as one controls the racer and the other a high-powered police car. We’ll need more details about how it all works, but once again, it was a visual treat.

As a side-note, EA also brought out Aaron Paul, star of Breaking Bad and the upcoming Need for Speed film, to show a short clip of the film. You guessed it, cars were driven fast and some of them crashed.

Aaryn Flynn, general manager at Bioware, came out to show the first trailer for the highly anticipated Dragon Age: Inquisition. Though the trailer was purely CGI, with none of the huge open worlds they’ve promised, it still did a good job of conveying a certain tone and teasing some story elements. The creature design was, as we’ve come to expect from Bioware, fantastic, and the world seems delightfully different from what we’ve seen before. This will be one to watch for RPG fans in 2014.

Even though Microsoft showed some single-player content for Battlefield 4 at its conference, most players will be picking up a copy for the multiplayer. In what was quite an interesting stunt, it pulled up the curtains to reveal 64 players all on stage playing BF4. It’s hard to know if they were actually all playing, but if they were, then certainly what occurred was rehearsed. It had none of the spontaneity that makes Battlefield so fun, but it showed the destruction and mayhem possible on the Frostbite 3 engine well.

In a map called The Siege of Shanghai, the players worked together to take down a tank by blasting the support columns underneath so it crashed into the subway. This sort of gameplay hasn’t been seen before in BF and the destruction is looking tastily chaotic. To illustrate their point, the demo ended with a skyscraper coming down towards the player. This was purely because the other team blew up the supports of the building. It gets me all excited about the possibilities in-game.

As a signing off note, EA released a trailer for the long-rumoured but oft-denied Mirror’s Edge sequel. Although it’s potentially a reboot, as the name doesn’t sport a number, there’s a lot of opportunity for a beautiful game on next-gen.

All in all, EA’s conference was a good one. Although they love to talk a big game, the publisher are certainly delivering exciting games to their fans. With some new faces and some established franchises, plus the inclusion of Star Wars: Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge, there was something for everyone.

The writer travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Ubisoft.

Twitter: @CalumWAustin

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PacBrands puts smalls in big picture

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By , 10/11/2018 22:15

Pacific Brands chief executive John Pollaers has unveiled a five-year blueprint to internationalise the company’s underwear division that would clothe shoppers from England to China in such loved Aussie brands as Bonds and Berlei.

Mr Pollaers fleshed out his wide-ranging plan to resurrect the clothing and footwear manufacturer with investors this morning, listing a number of imperatives to transform the company including improving its distribution channels, developing a world class online offer, expanding into new offshore markets and shaking up its supply chain to rein in costs and lift productivity.

Pacific Brands’ underwear operations account for a third of the company’s total sales and last financial year were responsible for a majority of the company’s $404.9 million in pre-tax losses after it lost a contract with retailer Kmart and was forced to write down goodwill.

The former chief executive of brewer Foster’s told analysts at the underwear briefing that Pacific Brands had to develop a focused portfolio of key brands that delivered consistent growth to shareholders. The company would in future limit its exposure to large single retailers by developing routes to market that allowed it to engage directly with shoppers.

Pacific Brands also needed to balance a strong wholesale base with complementary direct channels to market, such as online and other retail channels, while delivering innovation in its core business categories, he said.

The current Australia-centric business model, with 95 per cent of sales in the domestic market, would be scrapped in favour of an internationally focused business with the Bonds underwear brand, bedsheets business Sheridan and workwear division (KingGee, Hard Yakka) ripe for offshore expansion.

Mr Pollaers was appointed the boss of Pacific Brands in August 2012 when the manufacturer which owns Bonds, Berlei, Tontine, Holeproof, Clarks and Sheridan unveiled its third loss in four years following more than $500 million in write-offs and restructuring charges.

He took the reins promising a major restructure of the group after a downturn in its key markets and rising costs led Pacific Brands to post a larger-than-forecast full-year loss that almost tripled to $450.7 million for 2011-12.

Mr Pollaers’ strategy briefing on underwear yesterday is part of the turnaround. Last financial year the underwear division reported a 15.8 per cent drop in reported sales to $432.5 million and a full-year pre-tax loss of $330.3 million.

In a wide-ranging briefing covering his plans to lift underwear, Mr Pollaers said Pacific Brands had learnt from previous mistakes including a problematic launch out of wholesale and into retail.

The company had made good progress on its Bonds stores, would soon launch an expanded children’s range and would actively promote its online stores, he said.

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RBA talks the dollar down

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By , 10/11/2018 22:15

Reserve Bank has scope for more rate cutsMichael Pascoe: RBA miss negates minutes’ smile

The Reserve Bank sees further falls in the Australian dollar to help rebalance economic growth as the mining boom peaks.

While the dollar had “depreciated noticeably” against other currencies since its May cash rate cut, it “remained at a high level considering the decline in export prices that had taken place over the past year and a half”, the central bank said in its June board minutes published today.

“It was possible that the exchange rate would depreciate further over time as the terms of trade declined, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy.”

The Australian dollar lost a quarter of a cent following the release of the minutes, falling to about 95.17 US cents just after 11.30am. It was trading at 95.22 US cents about 1.40pm.

RBS senior currency strategist Greg Gibbs said the fall may have been driven by the RBA’s desire for a lower dollar coupled with its lack of concern over inflation fears, given a moderation in wage growth.

Citi economists Josh Williamson and Paul Brennan said the Australian dollar was now more aligned with the terms of trade – a ratio that measures export prices to import prices.

Changes in the cyclical drivers of the currency, such as Asian currencies and risk sentiment, meant further falls in the terms of trade was more likely to be followed by more weakness in the dollar, the economists said.

The Reserve Bank noted in its minutes that the Australian dollar had dropped against most currencies as a reflection of its rate cut in May, falling commodity prices and concerns about China’s economy.

NAB currency strategist Ray Attrill said in a briefing today he expected the dollar to fall to a “fair value” of 83 US cents by the end of 2015. NAB also forecast the currency to fall to 93 US cents by the end of this year and 87 US cents by the end of next year.

“We will see substantial depreciation coming through over the next year or two,” Mr Attrill said, adding that some of the recent losses of the currency could be consolidated as the futures market showed that a large amount of investors were short on the dollar.

Financial markets were pricing in a 22 per cent chance of a rate cut in July, and at least one more 25 basis points cut by the end of the year.

Most economists said they expected one more rate cut from the Reserve Bank between August to November this year.

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Kitchen spy: Costa Georgiadis

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By , 10/11/2018 22:15

Pantry essentials: Olive and macadamia oils. Photo: Marco Del Grande Georgiadis’ scenic crockery. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis likes the tartness of cider vinegar and uses it in dressings. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Happy gardener Costa Georgiadis shows us what the inside of his home looks like. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Costa Georgiadis has a cuppa in his home kitchen. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis drinks a variety of teas, including Rainbow Chai, Greek mountain tea (pictured), camomile and green tea. He avoids coffee and experiments with his own tea blends. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Assorted preserves including lemon curd (left). Photo: Marco Del Grande

Home-made chilli paste. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis’ fridge contains plenty of jars of fermented vegetables for healthy digestion. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis’ mother’s old recipe journal. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Favourite: ‘My mum’s baking dishes’. Photo: Marco Del Grande

One of Georgiadis’ cookbooks. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis’ last meal was a roast chicken filled with lemon, thyme and rosemary. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Costa Georgiadis with his leftover roast chicken and potatoes. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis’ father’s home-made chicken marinade with lemon, garlic, olive oil, pepper and salt. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Saturday night tipple: A biodynamic shiraz from Bunn in Albany, Western Australia. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Assorted honeys. Photo: Marco Del Grande

In the fridge: Organic butter. Photo: Marco Del Grande

A loaf of sourdough olive bread. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Jars of olives for snacking, pasta and salads. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Pickled garlic. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Pickled chillies from a friend. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis tosses tamari through his garden greens. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Georgiadis’ olive oil decanter. Photo: Marco Del Grande

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Heartbreak and euphoria: 48 years of Socceroos World Cup qualification

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By , 10/11/2018 22:15

Australia’s World Cup qualification history1965: No mercy from North Korea

Australia’s first attempt to qualify for the World Cup ends in complete disaster. Drawn against North Korea in their first attempt to qualify for the World Cup, the Socceroos were hammered 6-1 and 3-1 over two legs, three days apart in Phnom Penh – as Cambodia were the only country with diplomatic ties to both and was prepared to host the match. That North Korean side famously went on to defeat Italy 1-0 at England 1966.1969: Israel deny Socceroos

After overcoming South Korea, Japan and Rhodesia, the Socceroos lined up against Israel for a place at Mexico 1970. An own-goal to David Zeman would give Israel a 1-0 lead from the first leg. A crowd of 32,500 made their way to the Sydney Sports Ground to see Australia overturn the deficit, and while John Watkiss cancelled out Mordechai Spiegler’s opener, they couldn’t find a winner.1973: The Breakthrough

The moment at long last. Having squeezed past New Zealand, Indonesia and Iraq, and then Iran, the Socceroos drew their play-off matches 0-0 (Sydney) and 2-2 (Seoul) against South Korea – notably fighting back from 2-0 in the second leg. A neutral venue, Hong Kong, was used for the decisive play-off, and Jim Mackay’s 70th minute bullet proved enough to send Australia to their first ever World Cup in Germany a year later.1977: Iran pain, chapter 1

Following the high of the previous campaign, this was a relative debacle. Picking off New Zealand and Taiwan was easy but the test of Iran, South Korea, Kuwait and Hong Kong proved too much. Australia couldn’t qualify following a 1-0 loss to Kuwait in the penultimate group match, rendering their final game, against Iran in Tehran, irrelevant. Jimmy Shoulder’s side also lost that game 1-0.1981: The loss to New Zealand

Another disaster – perhaps the worst of the lot. After a 3-3 draw in Auckland, a shock 2-0 loss against New Zealand ended Rudi Gutendorf’s reign. New coach Les Scheinflug couldn’t save the day – a 1-0 loss to Indonesia in Suribaya cruelling the side’s qualification chances. The Kiwis then bounced all the way to Spain for their maiden World Cup appearance.1985: The Socceroos draw to Scotland at home

Australia vowed revenge on Israel and New Zealand in the group stage – and Frank Arok masterminded it with a 2-0 win over the All Whites at the Sydney Sports Ground to secure a play-off spot. The Socceroos were then pitted against Scotland’s golden generation for a spot at Mexico 1986. Despite a flurry of chances, a 2-0 home lead in Glasgow wasn’t challenged in the second leg at Melbourne’s Olympic Park.1989: Israel deny Socceroos again

There was more of New Zealand and Israel – and more heartbreak. A 4-1 thrashing of the Kiwis had a nation confident of progress to the next stage but an away draw against Israel and a horror 2-0 away defeat to the All Whites meant Australia had to defeat Israel in the final group match at Sydney Football Stadium. Paul Trimboli’s late goal could only secure a draw in front of 40,320 fans and a distraught Arok.1993: Socceroos versus Maradona

A changing of the guard of sorts as Eddie Thompson’s Socceroos showed themselves as a force to be reckoned with. New Zealand were no match and Australia then overcame Canada, ultimately advancing in a penalty shootout after winning the home leg at the SFS 2-1. Australia boldly stood up to Diego Maradona’s Argentina with a 1-1 draw at home and were only denied qualification by an unlucky Alex Tobin own goal in Buenos Aires.1997: Iran heartbreak, chapter II

The pain rankles deeper here than anything else. Australia never lost a single match in the qualification phase and found themselves ultimately pitted themselves against Iran over two legs for a place at France 1998. A 1-1 draw in Tehran gave Australia a great chance and when they were 2-0 up in front of a capacity crowd at the MCG, qualification looked assured. Two late goals to Iran cruelled a nation’s hopes.2001: Smash up in Montivideo

More heartache as the Socceroos, with one of their best-ever teams, again falls short at the final hurdle. Australia even takes a 1-0 lead into the second leg in Montevideo after a win at the MCG. However, it’s not enough, as a Dario Silva-inspired Uruguayan side bulldozes through. Australian football seems eternally stuck in rut.2005: Revenge over Uruguay

 The greatest moment of all. It’s Uruguay, again, except this time nothing is left to chance. The Socceroos win the right to host the second leg and feel content as they leave Montevideo with a 1-0 defeat. Guus Hiddink guides the team to match that result in Sydney and then take the game to penalties, where Mark Schwarzer is the hero and John Aloisi the eternal icon.2009: No worries … for once

The most professional qualification campaign imaginable. Australia’s first foray into Asia ends in the Socceroos proving themselves as the continent’s best team, despite a rocky third stage. However, they finish the fourth and final group stage by conceding just a single goal in eight matches – in their very last match against Japan. They are the first nation outside the hosts to qualify South Africa 2010.2013: Down to the wire

2013: After doing enough to comfortably move through the penultimate stage, the heroes of the past two campaigns come under fire as Australia slips to a 2-1 away defeat against Jordan and a failure to defeat Oman. However, the day looks to be saved as a draw with Japan in Saitama and a home 4-0 thumping of Jordan leaves Australia needing a win to qualify for their third straight World Cup.

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