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Australia first to arrive for W Cup

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ANGE-COACHCURITIBA, May 29- Australia touched down in Brazil on Wednesday to launch their World Cup campaign, the first team to arrive for the tournament.

The Socceroos landed in the southern city of Curitiba before catching a connection to the coastal town of Victoria, where their base camp is located.

Australia are the lowest-ranking of the 32 teams in the tournament — world number 59 in FIFA’s last ranking — but midfielder Tommy Oar said they were using that as motivation.

“We are the underdogs. It will be a good opportunity for the Australian team to surprise, so this is all very exciting. And being in the ‘soccer country’ is an extra motivation, of course,” Oar said in a statement released by FIFA.

“We’ve been training for the last few days and things have gone well. We still have some two more weeks to keep on training, so I think we will be well-prepared for the World Cup.”

Security was tight for the team’s arrival in Curitiba, with officials expecting anti-World Cup protests that never materialized, said an AFP photographer.

Brazil has been hit by a wave of strikes and protests in recent weeks sparked by public anger over the more than $11 billion being spent on the tournament in a country with urgent needs in education, health and transport.

In the end, however, the only crowd awaiting the Socceroos was a friendly one of about 100 people who welcomed them waving Brazilian flags.

Australia, who are playing in their third straight World Cup, have their first match on June 13 against Chile. They will also face Spain and the Netherlands in a difficult Group A.

The next teams expected in Brazil are Croatia and Iran on June 3. The last arrivals are South Korea, Ghana and Portugal on June 11, the day before the opening match.

The Brazilian side for their part opened their base camp Monday and, after undergoing medical checks, took to the practice pitch for the first time Wednesday

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