Duke 'won’t accept anything less' than perfect run through World Cup qualifiers
Socceroos forward Mitchell Duke says achieving anything less than maximum points from two remaining Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers would be considered a disappointment for a highly motivated Green and Gold squad with a five-point lead at the top of Group B.
Australia can secure safe passage to the third round of AFC qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ with a win against Nepal on Friday, June 12 (AEST) in the seventh of eight Group B qualification fixtures, moving at least five points clear of Jordan in second with just one game to play.
The simple equation is in the Socceroos' hands thanks to two wins over Kuwait (3-0) and Chinese Taipei (5-1) in the past week which have put the Green and Gold on the brink of a first-place Group B finish.
Australia's remaining fixtures come against Nepal on Friday (local time) and Jordan on Tuesday, June 15.
After scoring a brace in the 5-1 victory over Chinese Taipei, Duke said scoring for his country was - as it always is - a massive honour, on a night which left both he and his teammates plenty of room for improvement with two qualification fixtures remaining.
"It obviously feels good, job done for us and we just move onto the next game, that’s what we’re all about," said Duke.
"I think (we're) not too happy about the performance, it could have been a bit more polished but we got the job done.
"It’s the biggest honour for me representing the Green and Gold. To get two goals is awesome, but still not happy as a striker, I should have had more."
"The target (from now) is maximum points," Duke added. "And we won’t accept anything less."
Duke scored both of his side's second-half goals in a 5-1 triumph over Chinese Taipei, netting his first of the night 18 seconds into the second stanza with a front-post header of Brandon Borrello's floated cross. The Western Sydney Wanderers striker made it 4-0 but Chinese Taipei struck back in the 62nd minute before Duke secured his brace with less than 10 minutes to play.
The finish was a simple one for Duke but the build-up play was anything but, with Ajdin Hrustic and Nikita Rukavytsya combining to devastating effect to unpick the lock of the opposition defence.
Duke says he was inspired by the half-time team talk given by Socceroos boss Graham Arnold, to go out in the second half with a vengeance and put the result to bed.
"Arnie told us to go out all guns blazing," Duke said.
"We’ve got five subs to make so just run ourselves into the ground. We started on the front foot and punished them early, which was good.
"Second (goal) was just great work from Nikita, the cut-back and just open goal so I had to place it in."
The Socceroos' meeting with Chinese Taipei offered a number of inexperienced players the chance to feature under the watchful eye of Arnold, as he continues to provide opportunities to Australian players showing quality at club level and a determination to represent their country.
Young midfielder Denis Genreau earned Socceroo cap #610 on his starting debut, with Connor Metcalfe and Ruon Tongyik (cap #611 and #612 respectively) coming off the bench in the second half for their first appearance for the national side, whilst midfielders Riley McGree and Kenny Dougall starred in their first starts for the Green and Gold.
Duke says the first time you pull on the Green and Gold is a priceless memory for all Socceroos - and there was no better way to cap off that memory for all the debutants than with a big World Cup qualifying win.
"It’s something they won’t forget, I’m sure," Duke said.
"I definitely don’t forget mine. Arnie shows he rewards players that are doing well, especially the young players to get that reward.
"I hope they enjoyed it and I’m sure with a 5-1 win you can."
Socceroos’ June Schedule
Australia 3-0 Kuwait
Australia 5-1 Chinese Taipei
Nepal v Australia
Friday, 11 June 2021 (12 June AEST)
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium
Kick-off: 7.00pm local, 2.00am AEST (Saturday morning)
Watch on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and My Football Live App.
More on how to watch here.
Australia v Jordan