The day has finally arrived. The Socceroos are back in action in a make or break contest against Tunisia.
Australia will kick off proceedings on day seven with Graham Arnold’s men needing a draw or a win. A loss would all but end the Socceroos’ World Cup hopes.
France can cement their place in the knockout stages with a win over Denmark.
In Group C, Saudi Arabia are coming off their stunning upset victory over Argentina and will look to book a top two group stage finish when they take on Poland.
Pre-World Cup favourites Argentina are out to bounce back with a win while Mexico can all but end their campaign with a victory.
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9.45pm (AEDT) – Australia 1 – Tunisia 0
The Socceroos look a completely different outfit on Sautrday night to what we saw during their opening game against France.
The pressure from the Aussies has been through the roof with Tunisia barely being aforded any space or time with the ball at their feet.
It all paid off for the Socceroos in the 23rd minute.
A ball into the middle of the pitch was received by Mitch Duke who’s touch was a thing of beauty and launched Australia into attack.
A ball out wide found Craig Goodwin who’s cross took a deflection but rebounded high into the box where a streaking Duke leapt into the air and headed the ball past the outstretched hands of the keeper and into the back corner of the net.
“Wow, what a start, unbelievable,” the commentary team on SBS said.
Tunisia surged forward late in the opening half and looked certain to level proceedings when Mohamed Drager was left all alone at the back of the box.
His right foot shot on goal however was block by the desperation of Harry Souttar who covered unbelievable amounts of turf to scramble back and stop the attack.
Tunisian skipper Youssef Msakni went perilously close to making it 1-1 in the dying stages of the first half after a brilliant low cross into the box found him at the near post. His shot on goal had the Aussies beat but it went to the right of the post.
The halftime lead for the Socceroos is the first time they’ve ever lead a World Cup contest entering halftime.
9.10pm (AEDT) – Socceroos kit decision roasted
The Socceroos opted to go with an unusual jersey against Tunisia on Saturday night.
Tunisia donned an all white outfit while the Socceroos went away from the traditional green and gold look for a blue and mint green look.
The decision didn’t sit well with those watching on.
8.20pm (AEDT) – ‘What the hell’: Socceroos call blasted
Socceroos fans have questioned Graham Arnold’s starting 11 after only making one change to the team that lost 4-1 to France.
Fran Karacic comes in at right back, with Nathaniel Atkinson ruled out through injury.
But fans have wondered why Arnold hasn’t made more changes in a must win game against Tunisia.
“Worst decision, no changes,” one fan tweeted.
“What the hell does Jamie Maclaren have to do to start,” one said about the striker again being overlooked for Mitch Duke.
Socceroos line-up: Mat Ryan (c); Fran Karacic, Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich; Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree; Mat Leckie, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin
Tunisia line-up: Aymen Dahmen; Montassar Talbi, Yassine Meriah, Dylan Bronn, Mohamed Drager, Ali Abdi; Aissa Laidouni, Ellyes Skhiri; Naim Sliti, Issam Jebali, Youssed Msakni (c)
7pm (AEDT) – ‘It’s ridiculous’: Arnold erupts
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has taken aim at football development in Australia after a string of Asian nations pulled off stunning upsets.
Arnold was asked about the surprise results when he used it as an opportunity to take aim at Australia for failing to fund the development of young stars.
“I think the World Cup is growing on people and there’s more talk about football now and the stadiums are getting fuller and fuller and we just saw Qatar against Senegal and as I said it’s really growing in momentum,” Arnold said.
“I think it’s not so much the shock results, it’s the quality of the Asian nations. Asia .. in Australia we don’t respect Asia and what their qualities are. We don’t respect Japan and Saudi Arabia when we played against them in the qualifiers, everyone thought they were pushovers.
“But the amount of money that you see that the Asian nations are putting into the development of the game and what the game needs, compared to Australia, it’s ridiculous.”
After a disappointing outing in their World Cup opener against reigning champs France, the Socceroos are up against it tonight when they take on Tunisia.
The Aussies need at least a draw to keep their hopes alive of advancing out of the group stage for the second time in World Cup history.
Arnold was scolded for a lacklustre game plan against the French, but the coach has confirmed one big change for tonights game.
Right back Nathaniel Atkinson who suffered an ankle injury during the opening game will be replaced in the starting eleven.
Arnold confirmed Italy-based defender Fran Karacic would come into the side and that key midfielder Adjen Hrustic was in “good shape” and in the frame to return.
“The boys have pulled up fantastically well … so I don’t think there’ll be too many changes. We’ve gotta put our strongest line up out there,” Arnold said.
Calls have been made for Arnold to inject striker Jamie Maclaren into the side after the Aussies lacked any firepower against France.
“I don’t want to give away the starting line-up,” Arnold said. “Jamie’s a great goalscorer, “Mitchell Duke works hard. We’ve got some choices to make. At the end of the day I think you’ll see both of them on the field at some stage.”