WE will know by roughly 2am on Wednesday morning whether the Socceroos live to fight another day or whether their World Cup will be cut short.
Australia needs to defeat Peru and hope France defeats Denmark in the other match in Group C to progress to the round of 16. If Denmark manages to draw or beat the French, then regardless of the result against Peru, the Socceroos will wave goodbye to Russia.
A draw or loss to the South Americans will also mean Australia fails to advance. Even if we win and Denmark loses, whoever grabs second place behind France in the group will come down to goal difference.
The Australia vs Peru game and France vs Denmark clash both start at midnight AEST.
Elsewhere, Croatia is assured to get out of the first round but second spot in Group D is still up for grabs. Nigeria and Argentina face off while Iceland plays Croatia — and each side (except Croatia) needs to win and hope the other result goes its way to advance.
The Australian team has been announced, confirming reports striker Tomi Juric will start in place of the injured Andrew Nabbout. That is the only change, meaning Tim Cahill and Daniel Arzani will start on the bench. “I think they are very excited and motivated,” Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk told Optus Sport. “I start always with the players I think have the best chance of (getting a) result. “They (Peru) are playing with heart and they are a little bit unpredictable so it’s even more important that we play our own game.”
Former Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich wants teenage sensation Daniel Arzani to start and winger Mathew Leckie to move up front in tonight’s clash against Peru.
He’s also called for Tim Cahill — who is yet to get on the pitch in Russia — to finally be unleashed.
While there were rumours 19-year-old Arzani would be given first crack and Leckie would change positions, the mail is now suggesting the only change from the XI that started against Denmark is Tomi Juric to replace injured striker Andrew Nabbout.
“I’d like to see Daniel Arzani start and I would like to see Mathew Leckie up front,” Bosnich told Fox Sports. “Tomi Juric is a mobile player but he hasn’t had a lot of football recently.
“I would definitely start Arzani. For me he’s going to be a real star of the future — we saw what he did against Denmark so I would start him.”
Past players, reporters and the Australian public have all called for Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk to give Cahill — our leading goalscorer — a crack. Needing a winner in the dying stages against Denmark, there was national outrage when the Dutchman left Cahill on the bench.
Reports have suggested van Marwijk won’t start Cahill but Bosnich said if a similar situation to the Denmark game arises against Peru, then the coach must give the Aussie talisman a chance to weave his magic.
“If we do need a goal again in that time, that’s what you’ve got him here for, to make that kind of impact,” Bosnich said. “But we’ll see what the state of the game is at that time.”
Finishing has been Australia’s biggest problem not just in Russia but in the final stages of World Cup qualifying. We’ve only found the net via Mile Jedinak penalties against France and Denmark and plenty of voices have said Cahill is the answer to our scoring woes.
Whether van Marwijk sees it like that remains to be seen.