Stats Insider: Socceroos' first ever FIFA World Cup match in 1974

On the 14th June in 1974, Australia travelled to Volksparkstadion in Hamburg to face East Germany in their first ever fixture in the game’s most elite competition.

Despite losing 2-1 to Israel in their final friendly before the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Australia came into the game on the back of imposing form thanks to a rampaging qualification run, which saw them lose only once from 11 games (W5, D5).

Branko Buljevic would be the first Australian to launch a shot at goal in a World Cup fixture, launching an unassisted shot in the 20th minute to truly get Australia’s campaign underway.

 

Australia - 1974 FIFA World Cup

Player

Games

Total Shots

Shots on Target

Adrian Alston

3

6

1

Jimmy Mackay

3

4

0

Ray Richards

3

3

0

Attila Abonyi

2

2

1

Colin Curran

3

2

0

John Warren

1

1

0

Peter Ollerton

2

1

0

Branco Buljevic

3

1

0


Teammate Adrian Alston would be the only Australian to attempt multiple shots in the game and would go on to become the country’s most likely to find the back of the net throughout the remainder of the tournament.

Alston finished the tournament with six shots from three appearances, as well as finding one of the only two shots on target by an Australian player throughout the campaign when he faced eventual champions West Germany later in the competition.

1974 FIFA World Cup

Team

Games

Tackles

Tackles Won

Success

Scotland

3

64

54

84%

Australia

3

93

73

78%

Argentina

6

133

104

78%

Bulgaria

3

52

40

77%

Netherlands

7

173

133

77%

Poland

7

220

169

77%

Yugoslavia

6

148

113

76%

Congo DR

3

70

53

76%

Germany

7

214

162

76%

East Germany

6

150

110

73%

Haiti

3

71

52

73%

Brazil

7

173

125

72%

Italy

3

59

40

68%

Chile

3

72

48

67%

Uruguay

3

70

45

64%

Sweden

6

157

99

63%


Australia gave East Germany staunch opposition in defence, though, pressuring the East German attack at every opportunity.

Australia won 20 of their 28 tackle attempts throughout their maiden World Cup game – figures that no other team would be able to reach throughout the remainder of East Germany’s six-game campaign.

It is a defensive theme that ran throughout the entire campaign for Australia.

Indeed, they finished the campaign with a tackle success rate of 78% - the second highest of any team at the tournament.

Jimmy Mackay (Australia) was one of the best tacklers in the competition. He made eight tackle attempts throughout the 1974 World Cup without missing a single attempt. Only the Netherlands’ Wim Suurbier (13/13) made more tackles and maintained a 100% success rate.

Jimmy Mackay
Jimmy Mackay