Australian coach Graham Arnold used a one-liner to playfully hit back at a French star who claimed he hadn’t heard of a single Socceroos player.
The Socceroos have had almost no chance of defeating reigning champions France in their cup opener on Wednesday morning (6am AEDT) and are fielding a side many believe to be the underdog Australian team sent to a World Cup.
Australian manager Graham Arnold (pictured) hit back at a French star who claimed he hadn’t heard of a single Socceroos player.
On Sunday, French defender Ibrahima Konate (pictured) and midfielder Eduardo Camavinga admitted they could not identify anyone in the Australian squad, despite both having faced Socceroos players at club level.
On Sunday, French defender Ibrahima Konate and midfielder Eduardo Camavinga admitted they were unable to identify anyone in the team they are about to play, despite both having faced members at club level.
Graham Arnold was asked about Konate’s comments at a press conference on Monday, and his response was blunt.
‘Don’t you have Paramount+?’ Arnold asked, referring to the streaming service that airs A-League soccer.
The dry response drew plenty of laughs, but Arnold was quick to point out that while his team may not be big names, they do have big hearts.
Arnold believes the Socceroos’ greatest asset (pictured) is their mentality
“I know his mentality, that’s the most important thing,” Arnold said of his players.
‘They don’t turn away from anyone, they just know how to look ahead and move forward, no matter who is in front of them.
“And it’s not disrespectful at all, but I’ve barely mentioned the word ‘France’ and I’ve barely mentioned any of the (French) player names.
“The players know who they are…it’s 10 blue jerseys against 10 yellow jerseys and it’s a fight.”
It’s a fight most believe Australians cannot win.
Arnold lost damaging winger Martin Boyle to injury before the tournament began.
Their attacking midfield lynchpin Ajdin Hrustic is not fit enough to start against the French.
Most Australians believe that the current Socceroos team cannot win against the French
Captain and goalkeeper Mat Ryan, for two years and particularly recently, has struggled to get consistent playing time at the club.
The same goes for defensemen Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson, all of whom are returning from recent injury.
Arnold has a strike force of A-League leaders Jamie Maclaren and Jason Cummings, and Japan’s second division Mitchell Duke.
Many French players, among the richest in talent and wealth, spread across the biggest clubs in the world, have honestly answered questions about the Socceroos: they don’t know who they are.
“It’s something that’s his point of view,” Arnold said.
‘It’s our job to go out tomorrow and show them who we are as a nation.
French players like Ibrahima Konate (pictured), who are among the richest and most talented in all of football, have confessed their knowledge of the Socceroos – they have no idea who they are.
The players have the stage, it is their stage.
‘And this is an opportunity that can change your life.’
So how can the Socceroos surprise the world with a win at Al Janoub Stadium?
First, have faith.
“It’s all about believing in yourself,” Arnold said.
Second, do absolutely everything right.
“Not just one aspect of the game, whether it’s defense or attack,” Arnold said.
‘The opponent is dangerous when they don’t have the ball because of how they are in transition with the counterattack.
Arnold believes the Socceroos can win, they just need to get everything right
“So we really need to make sure that every aspect, on defense, rest, defense, buildup, offense, we need to be in our game.”
And we will be.