The Socceroos might be on the cusp of advancing to the knockout stages of the World Cup for just the second time ever, but fans and commentators still found reason to be upset on Saturday night. Mitch Duke's header in the 23rd minute gave the Socceroos a 1-0 win over Tunisia and Australia's third victory at the World Cup in history.
It marked the first time since 1974 that the Socceroos have kept a clean sheet in a World Cup game and the first time they've ever won at the tournament while wearing their 'away' kit. With Tunisia classed as the home team and wearing their white strip, FIFA regulations meant Australia couldn't wear their traditional gold kit.
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Instead the Socceroos turned out at Al Janoub Stadium wearing their alternate kit of navy blue with mint green trimming - a far cry from the green and gold that we associate with our national teams. Nike explained before the World Cup: “The bold obsidian away kit draws inspiration from the vivid sea, with splashes of green glow to help Aussies show their pride both on and off the pitch. It is representative of the creatures, plants, and reeds found in the waters signalling the deep connection between Australians and coastal life.”
While the strip certainly didn't look bad, fans were shocked to see the Aussies not wearing something more traditional. John Hunt of Channel 7 wrote on Twitter: “Who picked that strip? It’s horrid”.
Poppy Penny of the ABC added: “The Socceroos wearing their classic navy and mint uniform …” While Kishor Napier-Raman of the Sydney Morning Herald tweeted: “I’m glad the Socceroos are wearing their away kit because someone at FIFA decided yellow and white are the same colour”.
Others described the uniform as 'awful' and 'horrible'. Many also pointed out that the kit looked like something you'd wear to the beach as a kid.
I’m glad the Socceroos are wearing their away kit because someone at fifa decided yellow and white are the same colour
— Kishor (@kishor_nr) November 26, 2022
The Socceroos away kit is straight out of the summer 2022 K-Mart children’s rash vest collection.
— Tom Read (@traread) November 26, 2022
I haven’t seen these away kits advertised at all, which makes a lot of sense, they look awful #Socceroos
— Sabo (@Joeallenfilms) November 26, 2022
The football shirts across this world cup are easily THE WORST of all time. Absolutely horrendous lineup of terrible looking kits. The Socceroos away shirt is abysmal #FIFAWorldCup
— JT (@JTowne7) November 26, 2022
This Socceroos kit represents all the ugly rashies we used to have to wear at the beach as kids. Aussie heritage
— Nick Stoll (@NickStoll) November 26, 2022
Tunisia have comfortably won the kit battle anyway, the #Socceroos away offering is a shocker.
— Neil Sherwin (@neilsherwin) November 26, 2022
— Jonathon Clark (@glasses_jono) November 26, 2022
According to FIFA regulations, teams wear their home jerseys unless: “the two teams’ colours might cause confusion, the host team shall be entitled to wear its official team kit and the visiting team shall use its reserve team kit or, if necessary, a combination of the official and the reserve team kits.”
Socceroos are a draw away from advancing at World Cup
Despite the backlash, the away kits may have proved to be Australia's good luck charm as they banked a crucial three points to go second in their group. With France's 2-1 win over Denmark, the French are now top of the group on six points, followed by Australia on three and Denmark and Tunisia on one.
With the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stages, the Socceroos will move on with a win or draw against Denmark on Thursday morning (AEDT). However a loss would see Denmark advance and the Socceroos sent home.
"I just said to them, no doubt the nation is extremely proud, but we have done nothing," Arnold told reporters about his message to the players. "You (players) have achieved something we can talk about after the tournament. But we're here to go as far as we can go. I don't want any celebration ... get ready for the next one."
Arnold had a different message for folks back home though, saying: "Fans back at home, it's a moment they'll remember for the rest of their lives ... there will be a few hangovers in the morning."
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan kept Australia's first clean sheet at the World Cup since 1974. He also joins Mark Viduka and Lucas Neill as Australians to captain the Socceroos to victory at the Cup finals.
Viduka achieved the feat in 2006 and Neill in 2010. Ryan added his name to to the list after Australia's win over Tunisia on Saturday.
"It's what dreams are made of, what unfolded here," Ryan said. "Just super-proud. A collective effort from the get-go. We just left it all out there on the park. That is the objective every game we play, but somehow we took it to another level."
But Ryan said the message to his Socceroos teammates was clear - the job isn't done yet. With a or a draw against Denmark, Ryan will join Neill as the only skipper to steer the Socceroos to the knockout phase.
"We are by no means satisfied with where we're at," he said. "It's a great feat what we have done but we're hungry for more."
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