The Australians are supremely proud of the achievements of their troops, particularly during the First and Second World Wars. But what is often forgotten is the presence of Australian forces in other major conflicts, in the Sudan, the Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion. Their dogged defence at Gallipoli in the First World War earned the 'Diggers' a stern reputation - a reputation that their involvement at Tobruk and on the Kokoda trail showed they deserved. But the Aussies didn't stop there. They continued to fight other peoples wars with great aplomb. They fought with distinction in Korea, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and are still heavily involved in Iraq and Afghanistan today. The fact that Australia is miles from anywhere has not stopped them from getting involved in as many wars as possible. Maybe it is simply that an Aussie likes nothing more than a big dust up - preferably as close to a pub as physically possible. After all, their star player celebrates by punching corner flags into submission. Recent rumours suggest that the Gurkhas are allowing Australian forces to use their famed Kukri. Just so that Australian soldiers can come out with the "That's not a knife, this is a knife" gag whenever it is needed.
CAM 8 Gallipoli
CAM 80 Tobruk
ELI 153 The Australian Army in World War II
ELI 103 Vietnam ANZACs
Ah, the Germans - well organized, methodical, well dressed, bad reputation. Their military in particular has not had a great time of it over the last century or so. Traditionally they start well in these tournaments, with a couple of quick easy wins - usually over the Belgians and French, then deliver a stunning blow to the Dutch and Norwegians, before a bruising no-score draw against the Brits. In the past the Germans have done pretty well in Africa, so should fancy their chances, although without their mercurial captain Rommel Ballack, they may run into problems, and could struggle to break down the defences of the Australians. To be fair, thee past the Germans would have probably done better, if they actually finished off an opponent before moving on to their next match up, meaning that instead of playing a one-on-one marking system each German has to try to mark 100 screaming Russians.
CMD 5 Erwin Rommel
CMD 2 Erich von Manstein
Raid 9 Rescuing Mussolini - Gran Sasso 1943
Modern Ghana now occupies the core of the territory of the Ashanti empire, who was once thought to be able to field up to 500,000 troops - a huge force in those times and a strength that made the Ashanti one of the most powerful empires in Africa. It has all been downhill from there however. Today the Ghanaian military is a mere shadow of it's former self, in fact (once again many thanks to Wikipedia!) there are about 7,000 personnel serving in the Ghanaian military, meaning that Ghana has the lowest ratio of active troops per thousand citizens anywhere in the world (0.33 apparently!). Ghana supply numerous peace keeping forces today around Africa, notably in the Congo, but their overall fall from military grace suggests they will do well to progress from this group.
ELI 54 UN Forces 1948-94 (There is actually an artwork plate showing a Ghanaian Infantryman , UNFIL 1990 in this book!)
Another of the former states of Yugoslavia, Serbia experiences pretty much the same problems that the other states face, namely that they have only existed as a nation for about 15 minutes. Plus Serbia is officially neutral. That doesn't exactly shout hardcore does it? Sure the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, pretty much heralding the start of the First World War, but that is not really much to shout about. Plus Serbia last competed in a World Cup as Serbia and Montenegro. What happened to Montenegro this time round? Discarded and abandoned. That is not very nice is it? Sorry Serbia, I think you are going to end up struggling with Ghana for third spot.
ESS 63 The Collapse of Yugoslavia
Australia hop into the next round with an excellent record. A special mention must be made of the Australian public's great military history general knowledge - they refer to one of their greatest cricketers, Mark Waugh, as Afghan. Because it looked like his brother Steve was always going to outshine him, Mark was dubbed 'The Forgotten Waugh' - a reference to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And the best the English can come up with is Goldenballs. Or Cashley. Or JT.
The Germans cruise into second place in the group, but fail to finish off the Australians in their match, deciding to hold back the bulk of their team and only attack with their wings. They are rumoured to have asked for a rematch on Christmas eve.