June 12, 2018 / 2:07 PM / 5 months ago

Soccer - 'Unreal' France no honeymoon for Australia's Risdon

KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - Australia’s Josh Risdon and his defensive team mates could end up playing a game resembling Russian roulette in their World Cup opener against France on Saturday.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Australia Training - Trudovye Rezervy Stadium, Kazan, Russia - June 11, 2018. Australia's team staff and players pose for a family photo after training. REUTERS/Alexey Nasyrov

That the 1998 champions are among the favourites to win the tournament in Russia is in no small part down to the attacking options that coach Didier Deschamps has at his disposal.

Australia are well aware that even if Antoine Griezmann fails to fire at the Kazan Arena, the odds are slim that Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele will similarly draw blank.

Fullback Risdon, one of only three players from A-League clubs in Bert van Marwijk’s squad, is nevertheless confident Australia will be up to the task of containing France’s explosive front line.

“Whoever we do come up against is going to be a quality player. Their whole squad is unreal,” Risdon told reporters at the team’s training camp on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be tough whoever they throw out there, (but)the way Australian sporting culture is, the tougher the opponent, the more we seem to rise to the occasion.

“Hopefully, we can do that in the first game.”

Risdon is almost certain to start his first World Cup match on Saturday having provided the solution to van Marwijk’s right-back conundrum.

Reverting to a back four from the three-man line favoured by his predecessor, Ange Postecoglou, was one of the first things the Dutchman put in place when he took over in March.

Bailey Wright was summarily dumped after a 4-1 loss to Norway and Risdon has since held up the right flank with some aplomb in warm-up matches against Colombia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The fortunes of country and manager contrasted markedly in 2010 - when van Marwijk led the Netherlands to the final while Australia’s campaign never really got off the ground in South Africa after a 4-0 loss to Germany.

Avoiding a similar fate will be the main priority for Australia on Saturday and succeeding in that task would more than make up for having to put his honeymoon on hold for the recently married Risdon.

PREPARED TO WAIT

“That was always in the back of my mind when we planned our wedding, that it was going to come around the time of the World Cup,” the 25-year-old added.

“We were fully prepared that we would have to wait to have for our honeymoon.

“My wife is fully supportive. She knew the sacrifice I was willing to make, and she was, as well.”

Editing by Neville Dalton

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