DOHA : Australia can emulate their 2006 World Cup side by getting a result against Denmark and making it through to the last 16 along with group leaders France, former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis has told Reuters.
The ex-winger reckons the 2006 team getting Australia through to the knockout round for the first time was expected given the talent they had, but this side have surprised Aussie fans with their determination.
“This is an achievement I guess I didn’t expect, but within the camp, there’ll be a belief. They’ll be rock solid, there’ll be confidence about them,” the 50-year-old Lazaridis said.
The Danes need a win to have any chance of progressing, while second-placed Australia can advance with a draw.
“If we do make that next round, it will probably be the biggest achievement, even ahead of the 2006 side, because they had a real quality about them,” Lazaridis said at the Fanatics HQ in Al Wakrah, where many Australian fans are based.
“I guess from Australia’s point of view, we were thinking that we were going to go into the last game against Denmark needing the win and the roles have been flipped now,” he added.
“There is this kind of hope now, that we’re good enough for a point. After watching Denmark in the first two matches, I guess we’re not intimidated.”
Lazaridis was part of the 2006 side who made it through the group stage after their sole previous appearance at the tournament in 1974 ended after one draw and two defeats.
He holds a daily briefing for fans in a tour group in Qatar and their next stop is the Group D decider against Denmark at the Al Janoub Stadium on Wednesday.
“I personally had Denmark as my outside hope of the tournament that was going to do well. And they still may do you know, they’ve got a great side, Christian Eriksen is an unbelievable player,” Lazaridis said.
“And certainly, they’re capable of going long into the competition, but they find themselves in a position that I don’t think they expected, having to go against Australia and win.”
They might be lacking the raw talent of the 2006 squad, said Lazaridis, who played for West Ham United and Birmingham City in England, but the current squad can make up for it with the organisation that has got them this far.
“We know that Denmark is going to have to go forward and be more attacking they need to win, so they need a goal, so that allows us to play on the break. And obviously, the tactics will be to frustrate Denmark for as long as possible,” he said.
Just before the fans disperse to go sightseeing in Doha, the tour leader tells them that getting tickets for the last 16 if they qualify won’t be a problem.
“Can we get through the next round? There’s every chance now, there really is a belief,” Lazaridis said.