The Socceroos are desperate to concentrate on their World Cup task in the face of being probed about their highly publicised stance against Qatar’s human rights record.
Members of Australia’s 26-man continue to arrive in Qatar, and while preparing for their World Cup Group D opener on Wednesday week (AEDT) against France is their “priority”, their criticism of Qatar’s human rights history last month on a three-minute video continues to be a hot topic.
“Everything’s been said in the video,” Socceroos striker Mitchell Duke said.
“We timed things well with what we said. We’ve done that purposefully before we all came into camp because our main priority now once we’ve turned up is focusing on the football side of things.
“What we said in that video is covered – it should be heard.
“Now we are just focused on the football, to be honest. That’s (the video) not really spoken about now.
“We’ve got a certain job to handle here at the World Cup, to represent Australia and do our job.”
Japan-based Duke is perhaps the frontrunner to start in the centre-forward position against the French ahead of A-League pair Jamie Maclaren and Jason Cummings, although Socceroos coach Graham Arnold also has the option of using versatile Mathew Leckie in the central attacking role.
“Everyone wants to put their hands up to play in that starting 11, and for me I think I’ve got a good enough chance as anyone,” the Fagiano Okayama forward said.
“I’ll just keep trying to prove myself in training every day to get that spot against France.
“We’ve all got different attributes and different offerings to the team, so hopefully if I get my chance, I’ll make sure I take it and help the country and do them proud.”
Duke said the Socceroos had to get physical with France and “run them into the ground” to have a chance of beating the world champions.
“I’m a true blue Aussie,” he said.
“That Aussie mentality is that ‘not back down’ mentality. We can beat anyone on our day, (and) not be scared.
“It doesn’t matter who they are. They’re 11 players against (another) 11 players.
“That’s the mentality we have to have and not get starstruck. We obviously know some of the names in that French national team, but they’re human.”
Duke said the Socceroos could not afford any “regrets” if they wanted to reach the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2006 when Australia was beaten by eventual tournament winners Italy in the round of 16.
“If we give everything on the pitch, that’s all we can do,:” he said.
“That should be enough for us to be really proud by the end of that group stage.”