Australia's evergreen central defender Craig Moore believes the Socceroos are well prepared heading into their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ opener against Germany. A key figure in Australia's historic achievement at Germany 2006, when they reached the Round of 16 for the first time, Moore remains comfortable with the team's build-up despite a number of injury concerns over recent months.
Though he missed much of the South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign after announcing his retirement from international football in early 2008, Moore has displayed typical defensive reliability since he returned to the national set-up. And though the veteran has endured a disrupted club career of late, having played no club football since departing Greek club Kavala in March, he showed few signs of rustiness during Australia's three international matches over the last fortnight, exhibiting strength in the air and characteristic good timing in the tackle. "I have not missed a beat as far as the preparation," Moore told FIFA.com. "I took the break at the right time.
"It [the preparation] has been tough but that has been for a reason and now we are looking forward to day one of the World Cup. The important thing is everyone has come through a good preparation and injuries-wise everyone looks to be at the right place at the right time. Obviously there is a lot of caution when you are going through the preparation because you want to make sure that everyone is fit. We have certainly done that so it has given the coach the right tools to choose from as far as everyone has done the hard yards and everyone is going to be in a position to put their hand up and be selected."
The other three members of Australia's regular defensive quartet – Luke Wilkshire, Scott Chipperfield and captain Lucas Neill - will undoubtedly welcome the experience and commanding presence of the man who led Australia at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. The Socceroos' defence completed a remarkable record during qualification of conceding just four goals across the 14-match campaign.
I'm really looking forward to it (South Africa 2010) because I know it is my last crack at the big time so I really can't wait for it to get started now.
Ahead of their 13 June meeting with three-time world champions Germany in Durban, Australia concluded their lead-up match schedule with a 3-1 loss to USA, having earlier defeated New Zealand 2-1 and Denmark 1-0. Saturday's reverse in Roodepoort was their first in nine months since falling to the same scoreline against Korea Republic in a match where a number of players were absent. Indeed it was only the second time that Australia had conceded three goals in a game during coach Pim Verbeek's 30-match reign.
The Socceroos will not want for experience in South Africa with their starting line-up likely to resemble that fielded at Germany 2006, something Moore sees as a major positive. "There are a lot of boys that are here for the second time, so we certainly know what to expect. Certainly four years ago we were all going into a new situation and we certainly know what we are going into this time around."
An ever-present during the Socceroos' four matches in 2006, Moore scored a crucial penalty against Croatia in Stuttgart to help lift the Green and Gold into the Round of 16. Now 34, he seems likely to conclude a glittering 15-year international career over the coming month in South Africa. "The whole thing is extremely exciting and we are all really looking forward to it," said the former Glasgow Rangers and Newcastle United man. "Personally, I'm really looking forward to it (South Africa 2010) because I know it is my last crack at the big time so I really can't wait for it to get started now."
Australian interest in the FIFA World Cup has reached fever pitch both at home and in South Africa, where the Socceroos supporters are expected to be one of the largest groups in attendance. "We have a lot of support in Australia," said Moore. "We are extremely proud people and we want to give great performances. Obviously we would love to go through from the group stage. We want to make people proud of Australia and continue to try and push our game."