Jason Cummings responds to Zeljko Kalac after brutal World Cup swipe

Aussie footballer Jason Cummings (pictured right) during play and (pictured left) Zeljko Kalac speaking.
Aussie footballer Jason Cummings (pictured right) has responded to the criticism after he was singled out by Zeljko Kalac (pictured left) following the Socceroos' 4-1 loss to France at the FIFA World Cup. (Images: Neds/Getty Images)

Aussie footballer Jason Cummings has responded to the criticism from former goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac after struggling in the Socceroos' opening loss to France at the FIFA World Cup. Kalac was one of Cummings' harshest critics after Australia were criticised for a lack of urgency in their 4-1 rout to the reigning world champions in Qatar.

Veteran French forward Olivier Giroud netted twice, while Adrien Rabiot and mega-star Kylian Mbappe also scored against the outclassed Socceroos. Former Aussie star Mark Bosnish was critical of Australia and said the scoreline flattered the Socceroos.

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Harry Kewell in commentary also called for more pressure and urgency when they were 2-1 down. But Kalac singled out substitute Cummings for his short cameo.

"He was absolutely minging," Kalac said on Neds. "I think the bet should have been, is he going to touch the ball more three times. He was non-existent, we basically played with 10 men when he came on."

However, after the backlash settled down in Qatar, Cummings has addressed the issue. The striker admitted the team was tired and he felt he couldn't get a grip on the game when coming on.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to hold your hands up and admit, it’s France, it’s the best team. There’s levels to this game and they showed that in the second half,” Cummings said. “It was frustrating. Obviously we were losing at the time (I came on) so we’d try and press try and try and get there.

“At times I felt like I was chasing shadows a bit, trying to press their backs, they kept rotating. “... It’s obviously frustrating as a striker. I wanted to try and get a goal, an opportunity. Try and create chances and I felt like we were chasing them a lot and when we won the ball back , we were too tired to do something with it.”

Cummings admitted Australia faced a team of world class players and that chances came at a premium against the defending champions.

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SBS analyst Craig Foster also questioned the approach of the Socceroos and said coach Graham Arnold could have changed players or tactics earlier when the game was still in the balance.

“I think the question for Graham is whether he should have changed the game earlier? We were 2-1 down but really we were conceding a lot of really good chances. We thought that maybe he was going to change Atkinson earlier. He got through an incredible amount of work," Foster told SBS.

Following the defeat, Arnold admitted his team appeared tired after chasing France for most of the game.

Australian coach Graham Arnold (pictured left) subbing on Jason Cummings (pictured right).
Australian coach Graham Arnold (pictured left) defended his players after a reality check against France. (Photo by FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images)

"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."

Australia will now be desperate for maximum points against Tunisia in their second clash at the World Cup. France will take on Denmark in the other group stage game.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.

with AAP

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