Sport Football FIFA World Cup 2018: Socceroos stars confident ahead of crucial Denmark clash
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Socceroos stars confident ahead of crucial Denmark clash

Mathew Leckie Socceroos
Leckie's pace could prove key. Photo: Getty
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Australia winger Mathew Leckie is convinced the Socceroos can beat Denmark and keep their FIFA World Cup campaign alive in Samara on Thursday evening (AEST).

Bert van Marwijk’s side were desperately unlucky in a 2-1 defeat to France in Kazan and the performance has raised spirits in the Australia camp, despite the pressure a first-up loss comes with.

Australia now need a win or draw against the Danes to remain a chance of qualifying for the tournament’s last 16 but Leckie, speaking to The New Daily ahead of the Group C clash, was in an upbeat mood.

“We’re happy that we could put on a performance like that [against France],” he said.

“We really fought and showed that we are at the level now where we can compete against the best.

“We need to keep that standard. We know that if we do keep that standard, we are in with a good shot at getting results in the next two games.

“We’re here to get results … but we missed out by a [few] unlucky situations in the game. It was pretty even.

“We’re still in good spirits. Straight after the game, we got in a group together and said we got a great performance and deserved more. We know that.”

Leckie, who has now won 54 caps for the Socceroos, scoring eight goals in the process, is likely to play a key role in Samara.

His pace and work-rate out wide will be important for an Australia side who need to take the game to Denmark in a bid to get a result.

Australia defender Aziz Behich’s speed down the flanks may also prove crucial.

The left-back is often instrumental in Australia’s attacks and hopes that the side’s togetherness can help them in its bid for all three points.

“We’re a tight group,” he told The New Daily.

“We’ve been together [the] last month and obviously the camps before. We’re a tight bunch and all 23 of us are going to be needed throughout this tournament.

“We were obviously disappointed [after the France game] because I thought we deserved much more … we put in a good performance.

Aziz Behich
Behich and his teammates have trained well this week. Photo: Getty

“But we stick together in good and bad times and help each other.

“There’s only one goal and we’re looking in the right direction.”

Behich also said that the pressure of needing a result would not impact the side’s performance.

“Nothing’s going to change on our end,” he said.

“We’re still going to try and play our football that we’ve been trying to play.

“I thought we showed it really well [against France], especially in the first half.

“We’re going to look to build on that and hopefully get a result.”

Australia take on Denmark from 10pm (AEST) in Samara. You can watch the game on SBS and Optus Sport.

Day eight action

Cristiano Ronaldo scored again for Portugal in Group B on Wednesday (AEST), his fourth-minute header proving enough in a gritty 1-0 win over Morocco.

The result was harsh on Morocco who played well but it lacked cutting edge as Ronaldo made it four goals in two World Cup matches.

In Group A, Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 thanks to Luis Suarez’s 23rd-minute goal to become the second nation to qualify for the round of 16, joining Russia.

And in Group B, Spain drew level with Portugal at the top of Group B with a 1-0 win over Iran. Diego Costa scored the game’s only goal, with an Iran equaliser later disallowed after an offside ruling by VAR.

The best behaved supporters in the land …

Are probably these guys and girls. Terrific stuff.

Win for SBS

As Optus continue to battle problems with its streaming service, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon (AEST) that all group stage matches at the Cup would also be broadcast on SBS.

Optus CEO Allen Lew described the move “as a gesture of goodwill for Australian fans”.

Optus Sport will also be free until August 31 for those who signed up for the World Cup as the telco looks to restore its image.

Day nine

After Australia’s match, fans who stay up can watch the other Group C match as France take on Peru (1am AEST).

Lionel Messi’s Argentina then round out proceedings with a clash against Croatia (4am).

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