Socceroos striker Mitch Duke opened a provocative moment in his heroic goal-scoring performance in Tunisia.
In the first half, Duke, who has never been afraid to fling his body in a competition, was pushed to the ground as he struggled for an airball.
lying on the ground, Tunisian teenager Hannibal Mejbri threw the ball at the Duke’s head.The Aussie angrily stands up to send a candid spray to the youth.
Duke explained: “When I tried to control the ball with my chest, some kind of defense came from behind me, he slapped me on the back and then, while I was on the ground, someone threw a ball and hit me in my beak.
«I know this isn’t easy to miss,» he joked.
«Obviously I wasn’t happy about it, because I was already suffering from the hit – I felt like I had deliberately thrown a ball in my face, ready to get some gas and fire up.»
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Duke RAISES FIRE over bizarre quarrel | 00:39
Mejbri is a talented Manchester United contender currently on loan in the English Championship and has already built a reputation for his fiery approach. Luckily, referee Daniel Siebert quickly stepped in to put out the flames, forcing the two to shake hands and make up.
«I’m glad it didn’t get out of hand because I got a yellow card against France too. So I wouldn’t get another yellow card or I would have missed the Denmark game,» said Duke.
“At the end of the day, he said it wasn’t intentional, we shook hands, the referee was happy about it. And to be fair, he (Hannibal) came to me at halftime to apologize again and say it was an accident, so in this case everything is fair and respectful.»
Fans celebrate Socceroos win | 02:26
DENMARK TAKES ‘GREAT RESPECT’ TO COACH ROOS
It is clear that Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand is not only aware of his upcoming rival, Australia, but is also a huge fan.
Asked about his impression of the Socceroos before the World Cup qualifier in Qatar on Thursday morning (02:00 AEDT), Hjulmand praised the Australians’ «combatant spirit» and the Danish team’s need to abide by it.
But when asked how Australian players make an impression in the Danish national league, he really showed his admiration for green and gold.
Many Australians have played in Denmark’s top flight; Current footballers Mat Ryan and Joel King are currently there, while Awer Mabil spent seven years there before moving to Spain this season.
«There are always great professionals,» said Hjulmand.
“I think Australia is a great sporting country together. I think you have a great sports culture, it’s remarkable that sports really mean something in the country.
«I think you’ve seen how well the Olympics are done in Australia. I love the sports culture in Australia and when we see the players in the league and now with Mat (Ryan) I think we see him as a top professional, a great guy. That’s why Australian players are always a good player. It leaves an impression.»
Hjulmand said Australia’s sad 1-0 win over Tunisia didn’t change his impression of the Socceroos – he gave them a high score before the tournament.
Thursday’s shootout unfolds as a virtual sudden death showdown, where the winner moves into the knockout stages.
«We have great respect for Australian football and its spirit, its fighting spirit,» he said.
«That’s what national team football means, emotions and feelings and you see how important that is to the team… they have a very unified way of playing football.»
Denmark scored just one point from their first two games; A pointless draw with Tunisia and a 2-1 loss to France.
Hjulmand’s tribute to Australia came with an ominous warning that his side would not work or be defeated.
«We think we have quality and we have a good team, but we have a lot of respect for this team and it will be a tough game,» he said.
«But we’re confident we can speed it up… and we can keep up with their desires and passions because we have that, and I don’t think they can beat our desire and passion.»
«But we need to prove it and we have to show it on Wednesday.»
Souttar’s superhuman effort saves Roos | 00:36
‘UNDEFENDANT’ ROOS STAR AGAINS BIG MISTAKE
Australian defender Kye Rowles says he owes defending partner Harry Souttar a few beers after his last-minute blunder against Tunisia proved almost costly.
Rowles was the last line of defense when Tunisian Taha Yassine Khenissi opened the door for him to escape and chase an equalizer.
It took Souttar’s remarkable protection response to keep Rowles from blushing, and the 24-year-old is now reflected on Sunday.
“I felt pretty vulnerable when this happened. It certainly wasn’t my greatest moment,” Rowles said.
“… rewatching (Souttar) swallowed him in about three steps. I thanked him about five times after the match, because yes… I think I definitely owe him a few more after that.
Rowles was emboldened by the fact that it wasn’t just Souttar who had his back; several Australian teammates were running after him to defuse the situation.
“If one of their teams made a run and H didn’t intervene, we already had five or six people around the ball to support H,” Rowles said.
Rowles and the rest of the team playing against Tunisia were given light duties in Aussie practice, and Graham Arnold was expected to have a full medical report for the Denmark match.
AMAZING Duke headshot lifts Roos into the air! | 00:35
AUSSIE WILL NOT BE SAFE AGAINST DENMARK
Match winner Mitch Duke dismissed any suggestion that the Socceroos might want to take a conservative approach to the Denmark match.
Duke said a draw would be enough to secure Australia’s progress, but playing for a point would go against the mentality that got Australia this far.
«I don’t think any of us are trying to rest the match on their laurels and save a point,» said Duke, the eighth Australian to score in a World Cup.
«We’re going to continue the same way we did in the last two games and we’re trying to get those three points.
“You don’t want to rely on someone else to do the job for you. We’re totally focused on the next game and put in another solid shift and hopefully that gives us three points.»
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