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The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to Today: Australia! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.

1. Can Olivia Newton-John Be Far Behind?. For the past month in Australia, they have been preempting South Park for a show called Song for the Soccerroos. Here's the description from Yahoo7's online TV Guide: "Hosted by RocKwiz's Julia Zemiro, this new seven-part series follows the search for a song to inspire the Socceroos to glory in their 2006 World Cup campaign, tracing the finalists' song entries from rough cuts to professionally recorded anthems. The winning song, to be decided by judges and a public vote, will be released by Universal Music as a single, as well as sung and chanted by thousands of fans to encourage the team during its 2006 World Cup bid." So it's like a crappier version of Australian/American Idol for songwriters to spend a whole lot of time cheering for the Socceroos, who will do about as well as the Aussies in the WBC. — (thanks to Ryan Day).


2. Aussie Rules. In world terms, Australian acceptance of soccer is much like America's. Most full-blooded, koala-eating Aussies prefer their version of football; Aussie Rules. And golly, with teams like the Geelong Cats, Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles, why wouldn't they? Basically the only people that care about soccer Down Under are immigrants from Italy, Greece and what have you. Thusly, the players are really playing for themselves. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).

3. You Were Expecting Russell Crowe?. We're not sure how we feel about John Travolta showing up in the Aussie lockerroom to help celebrate their qualifying for the World Cup. Of course he's a licensed pilot, so he's liable to show up anywhere. But Australian soccer? Doesn't sound like something Vinnie Barbarino would be into.

4. Know Your Key Australian Footballers. Aussie fans should be on the lookout for Tim Cahill (Mid, Everton); Marco Bresciano (Mid. Parma, as Aussie as they come!); Harry Kewell, (Mid, Liverpool, generally considered an enigma); Mark Schwarzer (GK, Middlesboro, as gawky as they come). — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).

(Tomorrow: Denmark) (Sorry, we didn't mean Denmark.)