Caltex Socceroos defender Matt Jurman believes a positive start against France will be crucial to Australia’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Australia will face France, Denmark and Peru at next year’s tournament after the draw was conducted on Saturday morning (AEDT) in Moscow.
And with the Socceroos to face France in the opening group game on June 16, Jurman says Australia need to be at their best from the outset.
“The first game is always important. Sometimes you see a lot of teams aren’t at their best in the first game,” Jurman told www.socceroos.com.au
“We need to make sure we’re at our best. Hopefully we can catch France when they’re not at their best.
“It’s all up to us. We just need to worry about ourselves and make sure we give ourselves a good chance to get a result, especially in the first game.
"I think if we play at our best hopefully we can get some sort of result in the first game and set ourselves up for the rest of the tournament.”
Australia (39th) will be considered outsiders to progress from Group C with France (9th), Peru (11th) and Denmark (12th) all ranked above the Socceroos.
But Jurman insists the Socceroos will be competitive and is excited by the prospect of facing some of the world’s best players.
“I think it’s pretty exciting. It’s always going to be tough. Every team that goes to a World Cup, they’re there for a reason, “ Jurman said.
“Every game is going to be tough but we’ve got to be confident that we can go there and get results in all the games.
“The France game will be probably the biggest in our group. If you look at their players, they’ve got some unreal quality in all parts of the field.
“But for us as and a nation, we want to be challenging ourselves against these countries and to see where we’re at.
“I think it’s going to be a great test and I’m looking forward to it.”