Caltex Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk has revealed his first impressions of his players as he looks ahead to the challenge of France at the FIFA World Cup.
With France confirming their 23-man squad packed full of superstar names, including a host of big stars who have missed the cut, van Marwijk has labelled Les Bleus as one of the favourites for the 2018 tournament in Russia but is ready for the challenge they will pose.
Speaking to FIFA.com, van Marwijk has said he has been impressed with the Australian mentality and how they have taken on his ideas during a short window in March where he prepared for friendlies against Norway and Colombia.
“They are motivated with a good mentality,” van Marwijk said.
“They are good listeners. My impression of the players was good from the first day. The ten days together [in March] was very good and useful for us, and I was satisfied with how we played in the first half against Colombia [0-0 draw].”
Van Marwijk’s next chance to work with his players is in a pre-tournament training camp in Turkey where players will have the chance for double sessions to gel under the Dutchman’s new system.
There will also be a friendly against Czech Republic in Austria before van Marwijk cuts his 26-man squad down to the final 23 before facing Hungary in Hungary.
Then, all the focus will be on the France game – with June 16 the date where the Caltex Socceroos will take on the European heavyweights in game one of Group C.
“I’m telling you nothing new when I say this is a very difficult group, maybe one of the best at the World Cup,” van Marwijk said.
“Especially France, and we saw in part of their match against Colombia [in March] they have a very good team and have a big chance of winning the world championship.”
Van Marwijk has been particularly impressed with the attacking weapons coach Didier Deschamps has at his disposal – even with the exclusion of Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman.
“They have very fast and creative players, are physically strong, and they have one of the best players in the world at the moment in [Kylian] Mbappe,” van Marwijk added.
“They have a lot of weapons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a result against them.
“I prefer not to talk about the other [two] teams because we are concentrating only one thing, and that is the first game [against France]. The goal is to survive the first round, and I think we have a chance, otherwise I wouldn’t do it [the coaching job].”
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