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Mitch Duke pays tribute to son with goal for Socceroos

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DOHA: Mitch Duke knows that scoring in a World Cup will be with him for the rest of his life – and he’s glad he got to share it with someone so close to his heart.

After heading home Australia’s only goal against Tunisia, he sprinted towards one section of the crowd and made a ‘J’ symbol with his hands.

“I spoke to my son as I got selected in the World Cup and as a striker you need to have that confidence and believe you’re going to score in every match,” he told reporters after heading home Australia’s only goal in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia.

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“I was messaging some of my family saying I was going to score today and I told my son I was going to be able to share this moment with him and do that celebration.

“The gesture was the letter J – the first letter of his name. I haven’t seen it yet but apparently he did it back to me which is a very special moment I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life.”

Mitch Duke’s goal celebration is mirrored in the stands by his son Jaxson. (SBS)

Duke said the moment he scored was “pure ecstacy”, as he gave Australia a lead they would not relinquish. 

“It was a crazy moment for me. After Craig Goodwin scored (against France) we were told he was going to be the seventh Australian player to score at a World Cup.

“I said to Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) a couple of days ago that I was going to be the eighth… or ninth.

“I’m very happy to be the eighth. It was honestly a tough game, we knew they were going to be aggressive for the whole 90 minutes. I felt the boys did their jobs perfectly, we matched them physically.”

Injured Socceroo still providing support

Martin Boyle may have missed the World Cup due to injury, be he’s still in Qatar with the squad and was right in the middle of the celebrations.

Boyle had surgery in Qatar last week on what was initially only thought to be a meniscus issue, but has turned out to be a ruptured ACL.

There’s no doubt it was partly bittersweet for him to be there but unable to contribute on the pitch against Tunisia, but he’s well and truly still a part of things in camp.

“We’ve moved him into the staff now, as our OVM: Official Vibes Manager,” coach Graham Arnold said.

“He’ll keep all the boys up, because he’s just one of the most fantastic blokes you’ll ever meet in your life.

“Even though he’s got that injury, the most important thing for him is the rest of the boys. There’s no way he wanted to go (home). He wants to stay, support and be part of it.

“He deserves it more than anyone for of what he did in the qualifying campaign.”

Socceroos ‘not intimidated’ says BosnichHighway runners highlight logistical issues

There has been a lot right with Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup in terms of the quality of venues and the general attitude of the volunteers and workers, but at every turn you’ll see things that showcase their greenness when it comes to hosting global events.

In addition to streets being blocked off for no reason, or fence after fence taking people on wild goose chases, the way that fans are funnelled into specific areas AFTER games has frustrated many.

It’s understandable why you’d want to avoid crushes and make sure everyone is safe on the way in to a stadium, but the farcical scenes at Al Bayt after England’s clash with USA saw all fans trying to get Uber, taxis or one of the two bus services guided along one path, much to their chagrin.

It got particularly embarrassing for the hosts when, such was the dire situation of wait times and crowds, some fans opted to push past a barricade and run across a multi-lane highway in search of a better vantage point for securing a ride home.

I’m not sure exactly what a well-organised transport system should look like, but presumably it doesn’t end with people playing their own high stakes game of Frogger. 

Socceroos fans go wild in Fed SquareLeckie praises complete performance

Along with Mat Ryan, Melbourne City winger Mat Leckie is the longest-serving Socceroo in terms of caps, and has been a key part of plenty of big tournaments over the past decade – he saw plenty of parallels between Saturday’s win and the biggest victory of the Socceroos’ recent past.

“I’ve been a part of a lot games, the most important and the key thing today was how we went into the game physically – we just wanted to be on the front foot and throw everything at them, be physically better than them, and it was a little bit like the Peru game,” Leckie said.

“It was do-or-die and today was the same thing. If we don’t get a result today, we go home – it was very good, I’m very proud. The mentality of the team’s been very good and the key thing now is just getting right for the next one.”

What Socceroos must do now

Kylian Mbappe’s brace was enough to get France the win over Denmark, but Australian fans were cheering just as hard for the superstar striker.

Either a draw or a France win were welcome results for the Socceroos, and as a result you had Australians gathered around TVs at pubs and live sites around Doha, feverishly cheering for the team that smashed them a few days ago.

As a result, it’s now a very simple scenario for the Australians on Thursday (2am AEDT) – win and you’re through to the knockout stages, and unless Tunisia beat France, a draw is enough too.

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