AUSTRALIA will be in the unusual position of having their World Cup destiny in their own hands when they take on the might of Denmark in their final Group D match at their adopted Al Janoub Stadium home today.
While precious few would make the Socceroos favourites for the clash, the fact is that a victory for Australia would guarantee them a last 16 spot for the second time, while a draw would suffice if Tunisia are unable to beat already qualified France.
Charged with confidence after outmuscling Tunisia 1-0 for their first World Cup Finals win since 2010, the Australians are determined that the breakthrough victory should not be wasted by a failure to turn up today.
“The result will mean nothing if we don’t get a result against Denmark,” said centreback Harry Souttar, who was outstanding against Tunisia.
“It’s going to be an incredible test ... it’s all on the line for both teams and it’s what you play football for, the big moments.”
Denmark are still paying the price for failing to score against Tunisia in their opening 0-0 draw, their position in the group becoming all the more parlous when they lost 2-1 to France in their second contest.
European championship semi-finalists last year and regular visitors to the knockout rounds of the World Cup, the Danes should have the quality to beat Australia if they can rediscover their scoring touch.
A win would probably be enough to progress given the unlikelihood that the more goal-shy Tunisians will be able to upset even a second-string French side in today’s other Group D tie.
Coach Kasper Hjulmand joked in the week that he might ask to borrow Norwegian striker Erling Haaland but in reality he will have to rely on a team that scored an average of three goals a game in qualifying.
“On this team we have a lot of goalscorers,” he said after the France defeat.
“We have great strikers with great players all around the pitch that can score.”
Australia coach Graham Arnold is unlikely to change his line-up much, perhaps only starting the now fit Ajdin Hrustic in midfield, and will be looking for another gutsy performance from his players.
“Every Australian team in history have been underestimated,” winger Craig Goodwin said after the Tunisia win.
“We believe in ourselves and what we’re doing and we will fight to the very end to get the result against Denmark.” — Reuters