Former Socceroo "genuinely optimistic" for French face-off
Former Socceroos goalkeeper Clint Bolton believes Australia are capable of causing a massive boilover by beating France in their World Cup opener.
Bolton, who was capped four times by the national team between 2000 and 2006, thinks that anything can happen under the pressure of tournament play.
“I’m optimistic, genuinely optimistic about our chances,” Bolton told Sports Breakfast.
“This is a team that keeps talking up the fact that they have a lot of belief in themselves.
“Belief’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in sport and in general, and largely you don’t pay it much credence whatsoever, but with the Socceroos, I truly believe there is a lot of belief in themselves, and this is why we should buy into them.”
Graham Arnold’s side have the advantage of familiarity with the conditions in the Gulf State country, having played much of a lengthy qualifying campaign there due to pandemic border restrictions preventing teams from entering Australia.
“We’ve played in matches there, we’re very settled at the Aspire Academy where we’re based now,” Bolton said.
“That goes a long way to doing well at a World Cup, having settled squads in comfortable environments.”
Bolton is confident a youthful squad has what it takes to get the job done, despite experienced campaigners Trent Sainsbury, Tom Rogic, Mitch Langerak, and Adam Taggart being controversially left out.
“The players that will start, you’ve got players who can go both ways for 90 minutes, which will be important,” Bolton said.
“Not only can they attack well, but defend well when they’re not in possession.
“Then you’ve got the quality of players like Garang Kuol, Riley McGree, Craig Goodwin, they’re all gamebreakers or gamechangers, so having them come off the bench is excellent.”
The Socceroos will not be facing Le Blues at full strength, with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and prolific forward Christopher Nkunku ruled out with injuries on the eve of the tournament.
“Playing a team like France when they’re unsettled, players out, they’re coming straight from their respective clubs and games there, they don’t have a lead-in like a typical World Cup, so I think that will work in Australia’s favour,” Bolton said.
“We can really look at this as a chance to get something out of it.”
Kick-off between Australia and France is at 3am WST on Wednesday morning.