Andrea Pirlo, the Italian footballer who was on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes when the Socceroos made it to the round of 16 in 2006, their first appearance in over three decades, was not sparing of the compliments when asked about the Australian side.
“I remember when we played against them in 2006 and it was really really hard to play against them,” Pirlo told foxsports.com.au. “I know that Australian football is fast and physical.”
By playing in the FIFA World Cup Finals for the fourth consecutive tournament, Australia has established itself as a force with which to be reckoned, as they demonstrated when they played the French in round 1 and were it not for some bad luck, could have had at the least, a draw.
Pirlo believes that Aaron Mooy and Tim Cahill hold the keys to Socceroos success in Russia.
Yes, I know him [Mooy],” Pirlo said. “I’ve seen him play in the Premier League. He is a very good player, one of the best that the Australian national team has at the moment and I’m sure he will be one of the key players for Australia in the tournament alongside [Tim] Cahill, who despite his age can always make the difference.”
The Aussies hope that Pirlo’s words are prophetic, as they need to beat Denmark. The draw was not kind to the Socceroos. First, they wound up in a powerful Group C, and then they had to start from the top with France before proceeding to Denmark tomorrow before they get a shot at Peru. They have zero points thus far and trail both France and Denmark’s three.
Pirlo was complimentary to Australia’s domestic A-League, although he admits that Australian football is hard to follow because of the time difference.
Pirlo is of course disappointed that Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals. Italy failing to qualify was the rough equivalent of a national disaster, even more consequential than the typical political turmoil that dogs the boot-shaped peninsula.
There are high football expectations of a country shaped like a boot.