Harry Kewell divides football fans in commentary debut at World Cup

Harry Kewell (pictured left) during training and (pictured right) Australian players devastated.
Harry Kewell (pictured left) made his FIFA World Cup commentary debut during Australia's loss to France, but was widely praised for his role. (Getty Images)

Aussie football icon Harry Kewell made his FIFA World Cup commentary debut during Australia's opening clash against France and the legend has largely been praised for his fresh insight. Australia started off brightly against reigning world champions France having scored the opener thanks to a Craig Goodwin goal in the ninth minute.

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However, France kicked it up a gear and showed why they won the FIFA World Cup in Russia four years ago with a swift comeback. Veteran French forward Olivier Giroud netted twice, while Adrien Rabiot and mega-star Kylian Mbappe also scored against the outclassed Socceroos.

Most of Australia woke up at 6am (or earlier) to watch the Socceroos open their campaign in Qatar and fans were thrilled to find Aussie great Kewell joining the SBS commentary team. Kewell, a Leeds great and Champions League winner with Liverpool, was part of Australia's golden generation.

And the former Liverpool winger was for many a welcome addition - alongside David Basheer - to the broadcast for Australia's first match.

Kewell wore his heart on his sleeve during commentary and let out an audible gasp when Goodwin scored. He also showed his disdain when France started to run riot against the Socceroos and called for a change of tactics when the momentum changed.

This prompted plenty of football fans to praise Kewell's insight and labelled it a breath of fresh air.

While Kewell endeared himself to many listening, others were divided and felt he was too harsh on Australia throughout the contest.

Some listeners claimed Kewell was repetitive in his commentary.

Regardless, Kewell's stellar commentary debut was one of the few positive takeaways from Australia's demolition.

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Australia could have gone 2-0 up in the 22nd minute when a flying Mitch Duke 20-metre shot just flew post the right post. But five minutes later, the tide turned towards France. Rabiot scored with a close-range header from a perfectly weighted bal

Five minutes later, Giroud put his side up 2-1 after a blunder from Australian right-back Nathaniel Atkinson - one of six Socceroos on debut in Doha at the World Cup finals. Atkinson failed to control a routine Jackson Irvine pass and was dispossessed in an instant by Rabiot and the ball rolled to the brilliant Mbappe. With an audacious back-heel, he returned possession to Rabiot, who in turn found Giroud unmarked metres from goal.

Socceroos legend Mark Bosnich said the first-half goals were “completely avoidable”, while Daniel Garb wrote on Twitter that the second goal was an “unforgivable error” from Australia.

France players celebrate after a goal against Australia in the FIFA World Cup.
France ran riot against Australia 4-1, despite an early scare at the FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

While Kewell called for more energy and pressing in commentary, coach Graham Arnold admitted his team ran out of gas in the second half.

This was due to France's constant bombardment following Australia's opening goal.

"Look at the end of the day, they're a quality side and they're world champions for a reason," Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said pitch-side. "I thought the first half we did well. Second half, we ran out of legs a bit, but that's the type of level that those players play at.

"We will pick the boys up for sure (ahead of facing Tunisia on Saturday). They should be proud of their commitment, their effort that they gave, but again, they are the world champions for a reason."

with AAP

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