Socceroos captain Lucas Neill says Australia will draw inspiration from Brad Jones' son's battle with a serious illness when they take on Germany in their FIFA World Cup™ opener on Sunday.
Just hours before the Socceroos lost 3-1 to USA on Saturday, the team was rocked by the news that back-up goalkeeper Jones would be forced to leave the squad after his four-year-old son Luca was diagnosed the previous day. The news obviously had an impact on the squad as the Socceroos conceded three goals, the most they've allowed in a match since coach Pim Verbeek took over in February 2008.
But the players are already looking to support 28-year-old shotstopper Jones, with Tim Cahill celebrating his goal for Australia with a babe-in-arms gesture. And skipper Neill said the sad news would only give the Australians more incentive when they take on Germany in Group D.
"That's actually galvanised the team again," Neill told Fox Sports as the team arrived in camp in Muldersdrift just outside of Johannesburg. (It) gives us just that extra inspiration we needed to want to be successful."
But Neill was more than aware the Germans, who have suffered a difficult FIFA World Cup build-up themselves with injuries to key players like Michael Ballack and Heiko Westermann, will present Australia with one the most difficult tasks in the country's football history. "Germany are a superior team to Australia and clearly they're favourites," Neill said.
"Their record in World Cups suggest they are the most consistent team in world football. (So) if it's a draw, then it's a fantastic result. If we can cause an upset by winning the game, then we'll have shocked the world."
In other bad news for Verbeek, star man Cahill suffered a minor neck injury against the United States although it is unlikely to rule him out of the clash with Germany, while Brett Emerton trained strongly as he looks to recover from a calf injury.