Caltex Socceroos defender Josh Risdon is having the time of his life.
Living every footballer’s dream – set represent his country at the FIFA World Cup™, the Western Sydney Wanderers right back is also set to take on some of world football’s best attacking talents.
Australia take on France in Group C’s opening game – Saturday 16 June at 8pm, live on SBS and Optus Sport – and Risdon could see himself face off against attacking weapons such as Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba.
DAY 24 WRAP: Training screamers after team photo fun
Or so he hopes.
“Nothing is ever sure in football but I’ve played the last two friendlies so hopefully I’ve put my best foot forward. I’ll do my best to start that game [against France],” Risdon said at Tuesday’s pre-training press conference in Kazan, Russia.
“There’s no secret that anyone they put out on the pitch will be tough to come up against but the mindset doesn’t change for us individually or as a team.
“We work on the way we want to play, against any side, and that’s what Aussie sport is all about – the bigger the occasion, the bigger the opponent, the more we get up for the game. We’re looking forward to the test.”
Risdon added: Their front five or six are very dangerous and threatening so that’s always going to be in the back of your mind, just to be wary of that. But I try not to change my game too much.
“They’re also dangerous on the counter attack, they have some lightening quick players up front so I might not go forward as much as I have done in previous games but I won’t change too much.”
Yet for Risdon, the prospect of coming up against big names and testing himself against a favourite for the tournament in Russia is not the only thing exciting.
The 25-year-old was one of the last Caltex Socceroos to arrive in camp in Turkey in May, his arrival delayed by his wedding to partner Ebony.
With his selection in Bert van Marwijk’s final 23-man squad sealed after an impressive display in a pre-FIFA World Cup™ friendly against the Czech Republic, Risdon has had to post-pone his honeymoon until after the Russia tournament ends.
“It’s been a big six weeks for me and I’m just trying to soak it all in, I’m loving every minute of it,” Risdon declared.
But in the immediate future, the Hyundai A-League star will be gearing up with his teammates for the opening game against France, with a training schedule that focusses on getting the players feeling fresh and ready for the big challenges ahead.
Risdon added: “We will lead up into the France game but it will be a lighter week, focusing more on tactics and stuff we want to perform in the game.
“Training facilities here are amazing, the pitch is great and all the boys are keen to get out in training.”
In-form Vukovic earns Genk contract extension
Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has been rewarded for his excellent form with a two-season contract extension at Belgian club KRC Genk. The 33-year-old's deal was due to expire at the end of the campaign but the Pro League leaders have taken up their option to extend
Aussies Abroad: Vukovic’s Genk beaten in battle of Belgium’s top two
Danny Vukovic’s Genk remain well clear on top of the table despite falling to a rare defeat in Belgium against Club Brugge overnight. In a meeting of the competition’s top two at the Jan Breydel Stadion, Genk were beaten the fired-up home side, going down 3-1. There was lit
Aussies Abroad: Ryan’s Brighton through to Quarter-Finals while Milligan, Giannou pick up strong results
There were a handful of Caltex Socceroos in action on Sunday morning (AEDT) while some key figures were rested as their clubs negotiated cup ties. Firstly to Europe where Mark Milligan played a full 90 at the heart of Hibernian’s midfield as they welcomed new manager Danny Hec
Aussies Abroad: Luongo gallant in Watford defeat
Caltex Socceroos midfielder Massimo Luongo can turn his attention to the EFLChampionship after QPR crashed out of the FA Cup on Saturday morning (AEDT). The 26-year-old played the full 90 minutes in QPR’s 1-0 loss to Watford at Loftus Road, in a tight game where each side cou