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How the Socceroos can beat Tunisia

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25th November, 2022

While the Socceroos’ defeat to France was a wake-up call on how to play football, and complicates Australia’s chances of progressing in the World Cup, Graham Arnold’s side can still advance through to the round of 16.

But to do so, they’ll need to win or at the very least draw against Tunisia. There’s no doubting Tunisia will be tough to beat. They play a great style of football and will be no pushover.

The North Africans held world No.10 Denmark to a scoreless draw in their opening match, proving they’re no easy-beats.

After Australia’s opening match against the French, some football fanatics questioned whether the Socceroos belonged with the best in the world.

Just like Australia, Tunisia qualified for the World Cup the tough way. This will make them determined to make their mark. And they showed their class in their clash against Denmark.

And while Australia cannot afford to take them lightly, the Socceroos have a never-say-die attitude. Aussies are known for fighting against the odds. After all, hardly anyone expected the Socceroos to beat the UAE or Peru in the playoffs to qualify. But despite the doubters, against the odds, the young men adorned in the green and gold prevailed.

Andrew Redmayne celebrates

(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Due to COVID border restrictions, Australia had to qualify for the World Cup the hard way.

They played five of their qualifying games in Doha, Qatar and won all five of them. That experience with the conditions will place them in good stead against the Tunisians.

It’s this never-say-die attitude they will need to bring on Saturday in their do-or-die clash. And the Aussies are not going to die wondering, they’ll give it their all.

“At the end of the day, coming into this tournament you know you’re going to have to get two positive results to progress. And we’ve still got full belief that it’s more than possible, and achievable,” midfielder Jackson Irvine said.

Australia needs to bring the same intensity it brought to the start of the France game. After Craig Goodwin scored a beauty in the ninth minute, the Aussies led for almost 20 minutes. They will need to bring that tough edge and winning mentality against Tunisia. And they will need to maintain it for 90 minutes.

Unfortunately, against France, after scoring the early goal, Australia went missing. They capitulated. They can’t afford to do that again. They will need to be switched on. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

Football Nation Radio producer Michael Morcos said, “We need to start strong again, an early goal would be massive, but we can’t go into a shell like we did against France, we defended very deep after we scored.”

“We should match up well with them but their preparation has been decent and they played a really strong game against Denmark, they were probably the best team on that day. Hopefully we can go and get the three points. Big game in Australian football.”

Veteran midfielder Aaron Mooy, usually the heartbeat of the team, appeared exhausted.

And Morcos agrees, “Mooy was slow and had nothing to give.”

A stalwart of the Socceroos side, it will be interesting to see how he has recovered and whether Arnold plays him or rests him for the Denmark clash.

And the personal trainer lamented the coach’s reluctance to swap players earlier in the game. “Why does Graham Arnold wait until we are down and out to make changes? He waits too long for subs to be made, needs to be more decisive with his actions. Garang Kuol should’ve come on earlier. We were getting slammed on the flanks.”

Born in Egypt to South Sudanese parents, Kuol became the youngest ever Socceroo to play in a World Cup match. His journey is quite a remarkable story. A story of grit and resilience.

Fleeing war-torn Sudan as a six-year-old refugee would have been tough. And then to prove he belonged on the big stage, him and his family have shown great commitment.

Garang Kuol of the Socceroos.

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The 18-year-old and his mother used to make the four-hour round trip from Shepparton to Melbourne to play every week. He has since moved up north to play for the Central Coast Mariners. His career rise continues as he will join English Premier League club Newcastle United in early 2023.

Kuol replaced Craig Goodwin and fellow South Sudanese Awer Mabil swapped with Riley McGree in a double substitution, but it was all too little too late. By that stage, it was deep into the second half, the score was 4-1 and victory was beyond reach.

If Kuol and Marco Tilio can come on earlier, perhaps they can combine for some magical potential up forward.

In other positive news, Ajdin Hrustic has recovered from his ankle injury and is expected to join the side. The attacking playmaker has represented the national team on 20 occasions. A key figure in qualification for the Qatar World Cup, the 26-year-old scored the winner against UAE in June that booked the Socceroos a place in the playoff against Peru.

The Melbourne-born midfielder who plays for Serie A club Hellas Verona will be a welcome addition in the crucial clash.

Jimmy Morcos, a passionate Socceroos supporter who is also at the World Cup in Qatar, said: “We would need to play with a more positive mindset. I am hoping that we will create more goal scoring opportunities and play with a team that has proven goal scorers like Jamie Maclaren and Hrustic.”

Melbourne City striker Maclaren has been in fine form for his club. It might be time to see if he can repeat those heroics on the world stage.


(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

And Morcos is quietly confident the Aussies can get the job done.

“If we create enough goal scoring opportunities and strengthen our weakness along the wings, I think we can definitely win.”

Defender Harry Souttar was okay in his first match back after recovering from a knee injury, but his lack of game time showed in the end. Hopefully, the run against the French will help him regain some much-needed confidence.

Arnold will need to make at least one change to the team that started against France, with Nathaniel Atkinson ruled out with an ankle injury. Atkinson sustained the injury when he copped a knock in the Socceroos’ 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the world champions on Wednesday.

The defender copped a lot of backlash after the loss to France, but it’s easy to forget that he was playing on arguably one of the best players in the world, Kylian Mbappe.

It’s a big blow to the side and Arnold will need to select either Thomas Deng, Milos Degenek or Fran Karacic to fill the right-back void.

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There are reports that the versatile Deng is battling a hamstring niggle, leaving Degenek or Karacic as the likely inclusion.

There is depth in the squad so resting some players to ensure they are fresh for the Denmark clash might be another option the coaching staff may explore.

Whoever is selected, it won’t be a walk in the park. Tunisia will be a formidable opponent. But if the Aussies bring their absolute best, a victory is within reach.