Key Points: Thomas Deng, Awer Mabil & Garang Kuol's Press Conference

In a powerful press conference, Thomas Deng, Awer Mabil and Garang Kuol spoke to the media on Day 7 of training at the Socceroos' Home Base Media Centre ahead of the FIFA World Cup.


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Mabil on nine players in the squad being born overseas and how it represents a multicultural Australia:

“Yeah, I think our country is probably the best country in the world when it comes to multiculturalism and I think that's shown now on the international stage with many people from different backgrounds we have.

“You can see that with our saying. Many journeys, one jersey that represents us. I think it's just exciting times for Australia in general and for the world to see what a great country we have.”

Deng on nine players in the squad being born overseas and how it represents a multicultural Australia:

“Yeah, I think it's a good reflection on the diversity and the culture that Australia's created and also it's filtered into the Socceroos because everyone's welcome. 

“No matter what background you are from as long as you work hard, opportunities will be given. 

“We're really happy to be here to represent Australia and we're gonna do our country proud.”

Awer Mabil is overcome with emotion following the Socceroos World Cup qualification
Awer Mabil is overcome with emotion following the Socceroos World Cup qualification.

Mabil on not having much game time with Cadiz recently and being ready to face France: 

“It was the wrong timing because I was playing a lot at the start of the season and building my rhythm but the positive side of this is that I've been training like a monster. I think I'm really ready to go out there and do my thing for my country. 

“It's been a strange one because I've talked to the coach and he hasn't really given me a reason why I’m not playing but I couldn't dwell on that. I just had to look forward to the future and what I can control. 

“I had to be in the best shape that I could possibly be in and what I could control was my extra trainings. 

“When I don't play, it is very frustrating because I know I can make an impact and I know that and I'm doing that every day in training. 

“For me, it didn't really make sense why all of a sudden, I didn't come on. Especially for two or three games in a row and that was strange for me, but also brings a new challenge for me to develop my mind even more and figure out how do I deal with these kinds of challenges. 

“It's something that I have to learn. I didn't take a while at the start, but now I know I have good surroundings and people around me who advise me well. I found a way to get the best out of my days, be happy with that and then the rest. It's not up to me.

“It was also good to get 70 minutes the other night before I came here so there are no excuses now. I'm 100% ready.”

Kuol on the feeling of being at a World Cup:

“It's a very exciting, exciting experience for me. Obviously, I've been watching the Socceroos for a long time. The World Cup is the biggest stage so that’s where I want to prove myself.”

Kuol on settling into the Socceroos squad:

“I think being a part of the team in September, it helped me meet a bunch of boys. 

“Obviously Tommy and Awer have helped me settle in on the field and off the field by giving me tips. The tournament has been good.

Garang Kuol
Garang Kuol during his debut against New Zealand in September.

Deng on what Kuol has been doing in training: 

“He's been good since he came in, especially in the Brisbane camp. He's just a young kid that loves to play football and he’s just full of confidence. He's got a really bright future and we're just trying to help him and guide him in the right way.”

Kuol on who is mentoring his career: 

“I wouldn't say I really have mentors but there are a few people that help me go in the right direction.

“Obviously my coach at the Mariners, my parents, older brothers and these two next to me. They all play a part in what is going on and how I carry myself and take everything in. It helps.” 

Kuol on handling the pressure and what is going on in his head in big games:

“I just want to play well, create something and make an impact.”

Mabil on what Aussie DNA means to him: 

“I think is it always in our group because not many people believed in us.

“I think that we all always believed that would be here. It was just a matter of finding whatever way but I think as always, we like it the hard way.

“I would say grit actually. That's the DNA we have. Never giving up and forcing things until we find what we need to find.”

Deng on what Aussie DNA means to him: 

“For me, I think it's about sticking together. Especially at a World Cup. 

“It's a really tough tournament and we're gonna need every player. It doesn't matter what age you are just like Garang. 

“It's about making an impact, representing our country and making them proud.”

Thomas Deng
Thomas Deng with fans after the New Zealand match in Auckland in September.

Mabil on coming up against big names in world football:

“For me, I don't fear anybody. They are humans just like us. Obviously, they play at a high level but you can't go into the game thinking about giving them so much respect like that because you've already lost the game. 

“You just gotta go out there, do your thing and do it to the best of your ability. If it’s your day then it is your day but if it’s not then ok. But at least for me, I'm not scared of facing anybody so that's my mentality.”

Kuol on coming up against big names in world football:

“There is no intimidation. I find it more exciting to see what you can do against players of that calibre. You have to go into it with the right mindset and wanting to create something.”

Deng on playing in different positions across the backline:

“I'm very comfortable playing at right back. In the Olympics, I played there and the same with Melbourne Victory so for me, I'm happy and versatile enough to play there. 

“If my name is called and I play right back, I’ll take it.”

Mabil on the opponents in the group:

“It’s a nice group. Obviously, it's very similar to the last World Cup which we watched because we were not there. I think only Peru is not here from the last group. For me and for us, we see an opportunity to focus on ourselves and of course, to try to get something out of this group.

“I think Mark Schwarzer was there when we last won a World Cup game so it's something that I want to experience. Then I can talk to him about it and say: ‘maybe we're the next golden generation’. 

“It is a big call but we have the motivation to try to shock the world in our own style so we're really excited about the group. Also, I'm excited especially for the Denmark game because my girlfriend is from there and it'd be nice to get one over them.”

Deng on having the added pressure of representing multicultural Australia: 

“I don't think it's anything to fear. It drives us. It gives us the motivation to do better. Especially having so many young children that are looking up at us. They look to us as role models. We're just happy to be in this position and to give them a pathway. To show them that their dreams are possible and as long as you work hard for them, they'll be given.”

Kuol on having the added pressure of representing multicultural Australia: 

“I think being able to represent different heritages and to be a role model to many kids is something that I hold close to me. It’s what I proved to the kids especially. It's nice for the South Sudanese kids around the world to know you can make something of yourself if you just work hard.”

Mabil on having the added pressure of representing multicultural Australia: 

“Both boys summed it up very well that we have the motivation to try and open up a pathway for not just Australian kids, but also kids from our communities.

“Especially because sometimes it's easy to go down the wrong path but when they can see people from their community representing such a country, I think it's something that as a kid, I wanted to see somebody from my community show me that way. 

“For us, it is only a motivation to try to push higher for these kids. For sure, there will be kids better than us but we just want to show them the way so that's our motivation to try to show them and be the leaders in everything that we do when we represent Australia and our clubs.

“We're proud to tell our story, no matter who asked the questions. We're going to be as honest as possible. There is nothing to filter because, for us, it's just about honestly. That's the way we've been raised and that's the way we will continue to do our things.”

Deng on the bond between the three of them:

“We have a strong bond with each other. We understand the sacrifices that our families have made and that we've got very similar stories.

“That's probably why we're always around each other. I think it's good for us to speak and to answer questions so that Australia can know our stories and so they can know our culture.”

Kuol on the intensity of training: 

“The intensity is killer. I’m still getting used to it. The boys play quick and the ball is always zipping around so there is a whole lot of chasing.”

Deng on making his debut with Awer and how they are keeping a lid on the excitement at a World Cup:

“I think we're a bit older now. We've got a bit more experience. Making our debuts was a wonderful thing but it's about what we can do now and I think we have a really good opportunity to do something great with this team.

“We’re just looking forward to this challenge at our first World Cup and I think we really want to shock the world. We've got the quality to do that. It's just about believing in ourselves.”

Mabil on concentrating on the moment: 

“When you arrive at the airport, it kicks in.  

“When I was in the lounge, there were players from PSG and we were just sitting next to each other. That’s when it kicked in. But at the same time, I'm not trying to get ahead of myself. I'm just trying to enjoy every moment because I know once I’m on the field that is where I am most comfortable. That's where I'm the most comfortable because I can be myself.”

Kuol on focusing on what’s happening on the pitch:

“I don’t really pay attention to what's said around me and stuff. I'm mainly just focused on what I do on the field and trainings.  

“If I'm not playing well, I'm not going to look at what's on online to cheer me up. What I do on the field is what makes me happy and gives me the motivation to keep pushing forward.” 

Kuol on being the youngest Socceroo to be at a World Cup:

“It’s just a label. It doesn't really mean anything. I have to perform on the field and that makes me the player I am.”

Kuol on the influence the Mariners have had on him and his family:

“Before I went to the Central Coast Mariners, I was playing NPL 2 in Victoria so I was training twice a week and it was a killer for me. I wanted to be training every day so as soon as I came into the Mariners, I was training every day which is what I wanted to do my whole life. 

“That's really where my journey really started in terms of being a proper footballer so the impact it's had on me has been massive. I'm just thankful for those at the Mariners who brought me in and nurtured me on my way.”