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View from Down Under: Spotlight on the Socceroos

Soccer doesn’t often become the focus of the Australian sporting public, besides the World Cup, and maybe a big qualifier here and there, but with the Socceroos winning their first major trophy - the Asian Cup in 2015 – they’ve qualified for the Confederations Cup, which begins this weekend in Russia.

It’s not the first time Australia has qualified for one of the biggest events on FIFA’s calendar, in fact, we have a good record at the tournament where the world’s best meet. This will be the fourth time we’ve made it to the ‘elite eight’, but the first since joing the Asian Football Confederation 12 years ago. The Socceroos' best performance came back in 1997, when the side coached by Terry Venables made it all the way to the final.

They lost that final 6-0 to Brazil, which is the same nation that dispatched of the world’s number 49 ranked side 4-0 at the MCG on Tuesday night.

The odds of the them making it to the final again are extremely remote, in fact, the odds for them to even get out of their group – which contains African Champions Cameroon, South American Champions Chile, and World Champions Germany - are $4.50 (+350).

The favorites for the title are Germany at $3.25 (+225), closely followed by Portugal at $3.50 (+250) and Chile at $3.75 (+275).

The Socceroos are in a dog-fight to make next year's World Cup, with just one point separating Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Of course, there is plenty of other sporting action taking place over the weekend, including the US Golf Open, which tees off at Erin Hills in Wisconsin on Friday morning.

The best Aussie hope, Jason Day, comes in on the third line of betting at $15 (+1400), while the overall favourite is American Dustin Johnson. The world number one is at $9 (+800), while Rory McIlroy is at $14 (+1300). Geoff Ogilvy was the last Australian to win the tournament back in 2006.

Back on home soil, the second match of the State of Origin series is set to bring Sydney to a stand-still on Wednesday night. More than 83,000 fans will pack into the Olympic Stadium, with the vast majority of them hoping for just a second New South Wales series win in 12 years.

Queensland have rung the changes after they were belted by 28-4 in the opener on their home ground. These changes, which include a pair of Origin greats - Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston - has seen Queensland come in from $3 (+200) to $2.30 (+130) to level the series at 1-1.

As a result of Origin, Round 15 of the NRL features just four games.

Round 13 of the Australian Football League kicks off on Thursday night, and it’s expected to be a tight affair. Three of the six games have a line of under a goal, which may be due to the unpredictable nature of the season. Punters are not betting with confidence with 39 of the 102 games in 2017 won by the underdog.

The National Rugby Union team, the Wallabies host Scotland in Sydney on Saturday afternoon, and are now expected to have too many worries in chalking up their second win in as many weeks.

After steamrolling Fiji 37-14, they’re at $1.13 (-769), with the Scots out at $6 (+500).