EXCLUSIVE: Michael Clarke hits out at Aussie football fans for judging the Socceroos TOO HARSHLY and says the Aussies can beat Denmark to make it into World Cup’s knockout stage
Australian cricket legend Michael Clarke knows what it takes to win a World Cup and the crushing expectation that comes with it, which is why he wants Aussies to give the Socceroos a bit more respect for what they have already achieved.
But the retired skipper also believes the current group of Socceroos has what it takes to become just the second Australian side to ever escape the group stage at the Qatar World Cup.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Clarke urged fans to temper their expectations and to celebrate what an achievement it is just to qualify for the World Cup finals, while nations like Italy, Russia, Hungary and Erling Haaland’s Norway all missed out.
Michael Clarke of Australia celebrates with the trophy during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup final match between Australia and New Zealand
Bailey Wright of Australia and teammates celebrate the victory following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and Australia at Al Janoub Stadium
‘Look I think football is an amazing sport and I think it has the potential to be the biggest sport in this country,’ he said.
‘I think sometimes we probably have high expectations, with sport in this country we do have high expectations.
‘I think we should be so proud that we have qualified and are at the World Cup.
‘Like, Italy is not at the World Cup. Can you even fathom for a second that Italy, they are known for football, they are not at the World Cup – they didn’t even qualify.
‘So I think we need to be grateful that we have qualified.
‘Of course we want to see us get through the qualifiers and qualify, but we just played France. France won the last World Cup.
‘I think we’ve just got to be careful not to judge too hard.
‘The players are like, they don’t go out there to lose. They’re giving their best and all our job as fans is, is to respect that and cheer them on.’
Speaking before the Tunisia match that Australia won 1-0 on Saturday, Clarke said he believed the Socceroos could still go on to win both remaining games and advance to the round of 16 – including beating world No.10 Denmark.
‘I think we will win our next two games, I really do. I think we will find our way through,’ he said.
Italy’s Joao Pedro reacts after missing a scoring chance in the World Cup qualifying play-off match between Italy and North Macedonia that cost them a place in Qatar
‘If we do that, oh my god. What an achievement.
‘I think we should be so proud. Graham Arnold, what a coach, hard, tough, very well respected. And I think all the players deserve credit for qualifying.
‘I know we want to win everything, but sometimes you’ve got to pay your respects to other teams as well. We just got beaten by the team that won the World Cup. Come on.
‘Keep the faith, I think we will win the next two games.’
Rogic had not played enough football for West Bromwich Albion to warrant selection for the World Cup after a length stint off the pitch for personal reasons
Clarke also previously launched a passionate defence of Australian star Tom Rogic who was controversially left out of the World Cup squad.
He called former NRL star Laurie Daley a liar in a heated radio segment over Rogic.
‘I just don’t think he’s playing good enough footy,’ Daley said.
Clarke fired back: ‘No, that’s a lie. You’re not saying that, You’re not saying that. You’re not picking him because you’re pissed off because he chose his family or for personal reasons.’