LIVE BLOG: Socceroos v France in World Cup opener
SOCCEROOS coach Bert van Marwijk has dropped a selection bombshell by including captain Mile Jedinak for the crucial World Cup opening clash with France tonight, reports Tom Smithies from Kazan.
Having sidelined Jedinak for both of Australia's warm-up games against the Czech Republic and Hungary, van Marwijk surprised even his own players with the late decision to name Jedinak in the starting XI, ahead of Massimo Luongo.
All indications had been that Luongo's greater mobility and passing range would earn him the nod, with the QPR midfielder paired with Aaron Mooy in the passing drills at training in Kazan this week.
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But at the 11th hour, it seems van Marwijk has opted for Jedinak's experience of two previous World Cups in what will a hugely pressurised atmosphere against one of the favourites for the tournament.
Earlier this week the Socceroos boss hinted at his dilemma, warning his players they could not be overawed by facing some of the world's most celebrated players.
Asked if ability or experience was the most important factor in how he chose the team, he admitted that was a difficult balancing act.
"One of the most important things in my experience, playing against a country like France, is that you must be yourself," he said.
"It's easier to say than in practice.
"You have to have the guts to play and be yourself. My experience with the Dutch team (in 2010), is that when suddenly (Paul) Pogba is standing in front of you or (Antoine) Griezmann, and (Kylian) Mbappe and the big full-backs (Benjamin) Mendy and (Djibril) Sidibe, you must not be impressed.
"You can can have respect but you must not be impressed. You must be yourself. Normally you get that feeling when you get the experience."
When does the match kick off?
Kick off for the Socceroos' opening fixture is 8pm AEST in Kazan, Russia.
How to watch?
The match will be broadcast live on SBS and will also be broadcast online by Optus Sport.
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