Mourhino's shock Socceroos verdict
MANCHESTER United manager Jose Mourinho has made the stunning prediction that Australia will emerge from Group C at the World Cup in Russia alongside the French favourites.
The two-time Champions League winner opted for the Socceroos to claim the sacred second spot in the group stages ahead of the much-fancied Denmark and dark horses Peru.
The Danes boast one of the world's finest playmakers in Christian Eriksen, while Peru will be galvanised by the return of their talismanic skipper Paolo Guerrero, who had his doping ban recently lifted but that hasn't swayed Mourinho.
"I think France, no problems, will finish first," Mourinho said.
"Big fight to finish second. I'll go for a surprise. Cmon Australia, let's finish second!"
⚽ Did José Mourinho really just pick 🇦🇺 #Australia (@Socceroos) over 🇩🇰 #Denmark (@DBUfodbold) and 🇵🇪 #Peru (@SeleccionPeru) to come 2nd in Group C? #WorldCup2018 #MatchMourinho https://t.co/gDAHCKATeQ pic.twitter.com/bTZa3fcXft— RT (@RT_com) 6 June 2018
Picking Australia to reach the final 16 wasn't his only surprise choice.
Even though hosts Russia are in the midst of a dire run of form, he choose them to finish second in Group A behind Uruguay.
Meanwhile, Belgium showed flashes of their attacking prowess, beating Egypt 3-0 in a World Cup warm-up with the help of goals from Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
After a dominant first half, substitute Marouane Fellaini swept home from close range in injury time to complete the scoring.
Egypt, held goalless for the second time in three matches, showed how much they miss injured Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
Driven forward by the speed and insight of Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium were 2-0 up at halftime before losing some fluency amid a flurry of substitutions after the break.
Salah, Egypt's great scoring hope for the World Cup, is still recovering from the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final which Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid.
The defeat was Egypt's final warm-up before Russia, while Belgium play Costa Rica early next week.
Egypt opens their World Cup campaign in Russia against Uruguay on June 16 while Belgium's first Group G match is against Panama on June 19.
Panama and Nigeria both suffered 1-0 defeats in their final tune-ups against Norway and the Czech Republic respectively.
Tomas Kalas scored the winner in Austria, for the Czechs, who were beaten 4-0 by the Socceroos last weekend.
The Super Eagles also lost against England last week ahead of their sixth participation at the World Cup and are on a five-match winless streak.
But Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is not troubled, despite having to contend with former champions Argentina, Croatia and newcomers Iceland in a tricky Group D.
"I don't worry about friendly results," Rohr said.
"We are not ready now for the World Cup but we will be ready in 10 days."