Tunisia’s knowledge about the Socceroos is limited heading into Saturday night’s (AEDT) crunch World Cup clash — even to just a single iconic moment for one of their stars.
“I remember that goal from Tim Cahill … This is my last memory (of Australian teams),” defender Mohamed Drager told foxsports.com.au, referring to Cahill’s classic 2014 World Cup volley against the Netherlands.
“It’s good for us that he’s not playing anymore. (laughs).
“… Look I haven’t seen a lot of them to be honest … but I know the history of Australia is as a big team, especially in World Cups, they’re tough to play. So I expect a hard game to be honest.”
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There will be no danger of complacency from Tunisia, says Drager. And that will surely also be the case from Graham Arnold’s men after the North African side held world No.10 Denmark to a scoreless draw in their opening match.
”It was good (result). I think it changed the expectations of the other teams that will face us. Maybe it was a big ‘hello’ to them and yeah, we are proud,” said Drager, who plays for Swiss side Luzern, on loan from Premier League club Nottingham Forest.
“We don’t want to make it too big as it is because it’s nil-nil. It’s not a big win. But yeah, obviously then Denmark’s one of the best teams in Europe, especially the last two years. So yeah, the expectations gets a bit higher now.”
Drager did not watch the Socceroos fall 4-1 to France in their opener (”I was tired”) but he is refusing to read too much into the result, especially knowing how desperate Arnold’s side will be in a meeting of the two lowest-ranked teams in the group.
“What’s the saying, backs to the wall right?,” he said.
“They don’t have a lot to lose if you know what I mean. So it will be tough for us, and like a final as well, because we didn’t want Denmark. We got just a point, so we need to get to four points because the French team will be tough.
“To be honest, I have a lot of respect for this game against Australia because I think we didn’t speak too much about Australia. All the focus was more on Denmark and the French team.
“So I hope we don’t make the mistake as well to underestimating the Australians.”
One thing is guaranteed – Saturday’s match will feel like a hostile away match for the Socceroos, with Tunisia among the most supported teams in Qatar.
There are an estimated 40,000 Tunisian nationals living in Doha, and it seemed most of them had a ticket to their opening match played amid and incredible, loud atmosphere.
“It was like a home game for us,” Drager said.
“How many people were in the stadium, say 42,000? I think it was 40,000 (Tunisians).
“It was great. It was nice. Everything went peacefully and I hope to experience this in again in the next two games as well.
“Maybe even in the next three or four games.”