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World champions France 'only human' says Australia's Mabil

World champions France 'only human' says Australia's Mabil

November 18, 2022 (AFP)

Australia winger Awer Mabil said Friday that France were only human as the underdogs prepared for their daunting World Cup opener against the defending champions.

Graham Arnold's team face a tough task getting out of Group D, which also contains Tunisia and dark horses Denmark.

But Mabil, who plays for Cadiz in La Liga, said the Australians would not be overawed when they face one of the tournament favourites on Tuesday.

"They're human just like us," he said. "Obviously they play at a high level but you can't go to the game thinking, you know, giving them so much respect, because then you've already lost the game.

"You've just got to go out there and do your thing and do it to the best of your ability. If it's your day it's your day. If it's not your day then OK, but I'm not scared of facing anybody. That's my mentality."

Australia have not escaped from the World Cup group stage since 2006 in Germany and last won a match at a finals four years later, against Serbia.

The golden generation of Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill is a distant memory and they only reached the tournament in Qatar after beating Peru in a play-off penalty shootout.

"We have the motivation to try to shock the world in our style," said Mabil, who scored the crucial spot-kick against Peru.

"We're really excited about the group, especially for the Denmark game as my girlfriend is from there and it would be nice to get one over her."

Mabil, 27, moved to Australia as a 10-year-old after being raised in a Kenyan refugee camp by parents who had fled conflict in Sudan.

He shared Friday's press conference with fellow former refugees Thomas Deng and 18-year-old attacker Garang Kuol, who was recently signed by Newcastle United.

"It's a very exciting experience for me, obviously I've been watching the Socceroos for a long time... this is where I want to prove myself," said Kuol, who will join the Magpies from A-League side Central Coast Mariners in January.

"I wouldn't say it was intimidating -- rather I find it more exciting to see what I can do against players of that calibre."

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