Australia assistant Rene Meulensteen insists it would have been an “incredible injustice” had they been knocked out of the World Cup after France made nine changes in their defeat to Tunisia.
Heading into the final round of Group D fixtures, Australia knew a draw with Denmark would secure a place in the knockout stages as long as the Blues did not lose to the Tunisians.
However, in the 58th minute, the unthinkable happened and Wahbi Khazri put Tunisia ahead of the world champions.
The Socceroos were suddenly eliminated on inferior goal difference, having lost 4-1 to a full-strength France in their opener.
Fortunately, Mathew Leckie netted a huge goal two minutes later to ensure Australia remained in control of their own destiny with a 1-0 win and progressed to the knockout stages for only the second time in club history. country.
But Meulensteen, the former Manchester United assistant, admits it would have been outrageous for France’s nine changes to influence who finished second in Group D.
The Dutchman also revealed that the team didn’t believe fellow manager Mile Jedinak when he informed them of the Tunisia goal.
“It would have felt like an incredible injustice,” the Dutchman told talkSPORT.
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“We had made a change and someone whispered in my ear: ‘Tunisia have scored, they are leading 1-0’.
“At that time, I didn’t say anything to Graham [Arnold]but within two minutes we scored.
“I then told Graham that Tunisa had scored, we had to win the game, keep a clean sheet and think about substitutions.
“Then I said to Mile: ‘Gather all the players together and tell them that Tunisia is winning.
“The funny thing is that Mile is sometimes a bit of a clown, they didn’t take him seriously. They thought he was joking!
“He had to really convince them and in the end they put their bodies at risk.”
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