Australia captain Mile Jedinak has opened up on his mindset before taking penalty kicks after netting both of his nation’s goals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Jedinak has in fact scored Australia’s last five goals in competitive football, four of which have come from the penalty spot.
It is not a statistic that would please coach Bert van Marwijk, given the lack of alternative options, but Jedinak’s cool head under pressure has been important in Russia so far.
Asked about his process on Sunday (local time), Jedinak told reporters keeping calm was crucial.
“I’m able to maintain that focus which I’m very happy about,” he said.
“There’s no real secret, if I’m honest. It’s making sure you know what you’re going to do when you go up there.
“I know it sounds strange, but keeping as calm as possible with all the screaming and all the shouting and the rest of it.
“Just stay focused on the ball making sure you get a nice contact, and if the ball goes in the keeper’s direction, that it’s hard enough that he can’t get it.”
Australia take on Peru on Wednesday morning (AEST) needing a victory – and France’s match against Denmark to go its way – if the Socceroos are to qualify for the tournament’s last 16.
England hit Panama for six
Gareth Southgate’s England sent a message to its rivals with a 6-1 thumping of a dreadful Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday evening (AEST).
Most of the damage was done in the first half, in which Harry Kane scored two penalties, defender John Stones netted two headers and Jesse Lingard added a world-class strike from distance.
Kane got his hat-trick after the break, too, as England recorded its biggest World Cup win ever.
In a much more even contest, Japan came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Senegal, with Keisuke Honda’s 78th-minute strike ensuring both sides were forced to share the spoils.
Honda has now scored at three World Cups.
Later Monday morning, Colombia downed Poland 3-0 with goals from Yerry Mina, captain Radamel Falcao and winger Juan Cuadrado.
Look what it means …
Panama might have been 6-0 down when they scored against England but that did not stop the fans present from celebrating wildly.
The goal – Panama’s first at World Cup level – triggered an extremely emotional response in the stands.
— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 24, 2018
In an explosive interview with the BBC, the head of the Serbian Football Association has alleged FIFA were “directing” officials to work against the nation.
The claims came after Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1, a match controversial for the nationalist celebrations of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka.
What looked an obvious penalty to Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic was also not given, despite the forward being wrestled to the ground by two opponents.
“We will send a protest to FIFA,” Slavisa Kokeza said, unhappy a German referee was in charge of the fixture.
“I do not think this is only about VAR, but that the whole thing was directed by the people who appoint referees.
“We all know too well that more than half of Switzerland’s population is German.
“Technical staff, players, people in Serbia, they are all disappointed and frustrated because of [the] injustice some people at FIFA came up with.
“It is clear to Europe and the world that Serbia was brutally robbed.
“I do not expect FIFA to take action in order for this brutal robbery not to happen again, because, I repeat, it was all directed.” Wow.
Musings from Moscow …
A weekend back in the capital was highlighted by Belgium’s 5-2 demolition of Tunisia on Saturday.
Perhaps The New Daily is on FIFA’s Christmas card list after all, given the seat given to your correspondent.
Next up? Sochi.
The much-loved early kick-off is unfortunately off the bill for Aussie fans, with all match days for the next eight days reverting to a 12am-4am format.
We suggest skipping the midnight matches as Group A comes to a close when Uruguay play Russia and Saudi Arabia take on Egypt, given who progresses out of that pool is already decided.
Waking up early for Spain-Morocco or Iran-Portugal at 4am seems a better bet. All matches are live on SBS and Optus Sport.