Born in Péronne (Somme), Fahid Ben Khalfallah (40), former right winger of Tunisia (17 caps and 2 goals, 2008-2011) came to end his career in Australia, from 2014 to 2018. He did not not left since. Reconverted players’ agent, he therefore takes a sharp look at the strengths and weaknesses of the selection of his adopted country.
“What type of confrontation should the Blues expect on Tuesday evening?
The Australians have less quality and experience than in 2018. But they are hardworking, they have legs and they will run. Physically, they will be ready. Tactically, they stay in place. In a match, they are able to annoy France, who had also struggled to beat them four years ago (2-1).
“Aaron Mooy is the hub. He is not going very fast but he sees the game well and he works hard. For me, he’s their best player.”
Who are the main players to watch out for?
Mathew Ryan, the captain, is strong in his cage. Behind, Graham Arnold (the coach) called Kye Rowles, for a year. He is a left-handed central defender, left at the beginning of the year at Hearts (Scotland). He is fast and technically he is clean. But he is just recovering from a metatarsal fracture. Same for Harry Suttar, the right axial. He’s a giant (1.98m) and a goalscorer, especially from set pieces (6 goals in 10 selections). It is also also one of the few to play in England. But in Stoke City, in the Championship (D2). He too was injured (cruciate ligament rupture, November 15, 2021) and therefore, little played this season (3 matches). In the middle, Aaron Mooy, who plays at Celtic Glasgow (Scotland) under the direction of Ange Postecoglou, his compatriot and former coach (2013-2017), is the hub. He is not going very fast but he sees the game well and he works hard. For me, he is their best player. Better than Ajdin Hrustic, Hellas Verona’s number 10 (Italy).
If you remove Mooy, it’s not the same team anymore. Especially since Tom Rogic is not on the list. He left the selection for personal reasons in March, then Celtic for West Bromwich (England) this summer, when he hardly plays. It’s a shame, because he has a great foot, with which he is able to unlock a match. The others can be good in a game. But without guarantee. Because we are not going to lie to each other: Australia is more than average, less strong even than Tunisia. Jamie Maclaren, for example, has been the A-League’s top scorer for three years. But he remains a local scorer. It does not weigh internationally. Left winger and vice-captain Mathew Leckie has a lot of experience in Germany. But he returned to Melbourne City last year, and he is more on the end.
“After qualifying hard, they have nothing to lose and they will put in the effort for each other”
The real strong point of the Socceroos is their mentality?
Yes. After having qualified “hard”, they have nothing more to lose and they will provide the efforts for each other. Since there are no stars, there are no ego issues.
The novelty is the presence of three refugees from South Sudan?
Yes, and it shows the opening of the country, whereas it was very complicated before with the aborigines. You no longer smell of racism. I live in a Jewish neighborhood in Melbourne, where there is also a strong Greek and Italian community. You can dress in African style, wear the veil or the yarmulke, without this posing a problem.
Can defender Thomas Deng and attackers Awer Mabil and Garang Kuol pose one to the Blues?
I’m not sure Deng will play much. Awer, I played against him. He’s a different player. He goes fast, crashes and he has crazy feet. He is not finished as a player technically but he arrives at the right age. As for Garang, he’s been buzzing since April and his A-League debut, aged 17. In twelve starts, he scored six goals and delivered three assists. The president of the Federation had the right to choose two players for the A-Leagues All Stars Game. He took Kuol, he entered on the hour mark and he put the turbine to Barça (2-3, May 25) ! Like what, everything is possible, with the Australians. But I would be really surprised if they manage to beat France. If she scores in the first quarter of an hour, it can go crazy. »