Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura believes Australia will be the team to beat to gain second place behind Brazil in Group F.
Celtic’s Nakamura puts the Socceroos ahead of Croatia in a tough group which he expects to be dominated by World champions Brazil.
He said: “I think it will be easier for us to cope against Croatia, who play two up front and sit back a little bit. Australia are similar to us in style which makes them difficult to play.”
Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who led South Korea to the semi-finals in 2002, guided Australia through the qualifying rounds and past a play-off against Uruguay to their first World Cup finals since 1974 just a few months after taking charge.
Nakamura said: “Australian players have proven themselves to be highly skilled as they could organise themselves as soon as the new coach arrived.”