Football

Socceroos banned from saying two words ahead of 2022 Qatar World Cup opener versus France

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold BANS players from saying two words ahead of World Cup opener – and he’s refusing to even mention opponents France by name

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has banned his players from using defeatist words – and won’t even mention heavyweights France by name ahead of their World Cup opener against the reigning champions.

‘I’ve banned the word “fatigued” and I’ve banned the words “in pain”,’ Arnold revealed as his side look to shock the world at Al-Janoub Stadium on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

‘This is the World Cup, there’s no such thing as being tired after a game or fatigued or having a bit of pain and stiffness: recover quickly and get on with it,’ a blunt Arnold told reporters pre-game as he embraced the underdog tag.

Les Blues are overwhelming favourites ahead of the Group D clash, despite the absence of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante as well as centre-back Presnel Kimpembe, who have all succumbed to injuries.

Superstar Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann loom as the danger men for Australia – but don’t expect Arnold’s men to be overawed when they line up against the reigning Cup holders.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold won't mention heavyweights France by name to his squad ahead of their World Cup opener in Qatar on Wednesday

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold won’t mention heavyweights France by name to his squad ahead of their World Cup opener in Qatar on Wednesday

Captain Mat Ryan said mentality was key against Les Blues, where the Socceroos will be heavy outsiders

Captain Mat Ryan said mentality was key against Les Blues, where the Socceroos will be heavy outsiders

‘It’s not being disrespectful at all but I’ve hardly mentioned the word France and I’ve hardly mentioned any players’ names,’ the Socceroos boss added.

‘The players know who they are, but it’s about identifying those players’ strengths and it’s one against one.

‘It’s our job to go out there and show them who we are as a nation.

‘The players have that stage, it’s their stage and this is an opportunity in life that can change your life even more than what they have now.’

Captain and goalkeeper Mathew Ryan said belief was key.

Superstar Kylian Mbappe (pictured) and Antoine Griezmann loom as the two dangermen for Australia

Superstar Kylian Mbappe (pictured) and Antoine Griezmann loom as the two dangermen for Australia

‘The biggest focus for us has been the mentality and the boys have grasped the mentality: we go into every game, whoever we’re facing, with the right amount of respect,’ he said.

‘We don’t underestimate anybody and we don’t over-respect anyone.’

French centre-back Ibrahima Konate admitted last week he couldn’t name one Australian player – and Arnold is determined to change that over the course of 90 minutes, where his playing group will ‘kick and scratch’ their more illustrious opponents.

Veteran winger Mat Leckie is likely to start instead of Martin Boyle, who was ruled out of the tournament on Sunday with a knee injury.

Kick-off is 6am on Wednesday (AEDT), live on SBS. 


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