With the Socceroos hours away from one of the biggest games in their history, the boys in green and gold have already done the country proud on the world stage.
Australia face Denmark at 2am on Thursday morning (AEDT), with a win to guarantee progression to the round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar.
If the Socceroos lose, that would open the door for the Danes. While a draw could be enough for Australia should Tunisia fail to beat reigning world champions France.
Graham Arnold’s side have already enjoyed a rollercoaster campaign. But the disappointment of Australia’s opening defeat to France was completely forgotten thanks to their brave 1-0 victory over Tunisia on Saturday night.
That result has the Socceroos on the cusp of a first progression to the knockout stages of a men’s World Cup since 2006.
And there have been a number of lessons to be learned from the Socceroos’ campaign so far regardless of your position in the football community.
NNSWF Head of Football Development Peter Haynes said the gap between nations is closing with teams like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Ghana and Ecuador all performing well and achieving good results against perceived elite nations.
“It is also clear that the level of athleticism and physicality of players continues to rise. The speed, size and fitness of players participating at the World Cup in Qatar is simply amazing,” Haynes said.
“As the gap between players’ technical and tactical abilities reduces the need to have a physical edge seems to be increasing in importance.
“I think more broadly, as I was watching South Korea against Ghana it became clear that our game is enjoyed, celebrated, watched and contested by players and teams representing so many different nationalities, races, ethnicities, religions, colours and political views and is done so on a relatively level playing field.
“Our game is able to connect people and communities like no other.”
NNSWF Talented Player and Coach Development Manager Ryan Doidge said coaches were adapting their styles and tactical approach to the game depending on not only the opposition but also the stage of competition, previous results and what results were needed.
“You saw a clear change in approach from Graham Arnold and Australia in the Tunisia game compared to the France game,” Doidge said.
“The Socceroos were a lot more direct and aggressive with perhaps a little less focus on leaving space in behind for obvious reasons with France having [Kylian] Mbappe and [Ousmane] Dembele.
“Secondly, the thing I’ve noticed most was how passionate the coaches are on the sidelines. This is the pinnacle of their sport and watching the desire and passion that these guys have is inspiring.”
NNSWF Referees Manager Brad Carlin said the appointment of three female referees and three female assistant referees was long overdue and fully justified.
“The six female match officials have shown that they are not there because of their gender. They are there because they are so good at what they do and they deserve to be there,” Carlin said.
“The opportunities for young match officials and females to make it to the top of the referee pathway have never been greater and that includes in Australia.
“My other observation is all of the world’s best referees have the same outstanding skills set. They have total composure under pressure, intense concentration, incredible fitness levels which is especially important with the increases we have seen in stoppage time, confidence accompanied by strong body language and above all, the ability to influence player behaviour through their personality and communication skills.
“Referees at all levels of football will go far if they have and demonstrate these key qualities.”
You can watch the Socceroos final group D match against Denmark at 2am on Thursday morning, live on SBS.
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