Kye Rowles tough on himself after World Cup debut as Hearts star heaps praise on Australia team-mate Nathaniel Atkinson
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The Hearts centre-back played the full 90 minutes in Australia’s defeat to the reigning champions in Qatar.
A shocking opener from Craig Goodwin had the underdogs in front within nine minutes, sparking hopes of another possible upset after Argentina were humbled by Saudi Arabia earlier in the day. However, a five-minute French double from Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud put the pre-match favourites on top and they were able to comfortably see out the victory after Kylian Mbappe added to a second from Giroud after the break.
As a centre-back, Rowles was tough on himself after the match when interviewed by the Socceroos for their official YouTube channel for failing to do more to prevent France’s aerial attack.
"It’s a bit of a bitter pill at the moment. You don’t want to lose 4-1 to anyone. I know they’re a quality side but you always want it to be a close game,” he said.
“They had a really good ten-minute period in the first half and we just couldn’t hold them out. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. We conceded a couple of more headers in the second half, which is pretty disappointing for myself.
“We worked on defending their aerial ability, of course. But when they’re whipping balls right on their head there’s only so much you can do.
“Looking at myself, I should probably be closer on a couple of them and put them under a bit more pressure. With that quality you can’t give the likes of Giroud and Mbappe space in the box. They’ll punish you and that’s what happened.”
Rowles’ Tynecastle team-mate Nathaniel Atkinson also started the match and was given a horrid time by Mbappe out on the wing, though Rowles insists it was an impressive performance from the right-back against one of the best players in the world.
"I thought young Natty Akka did a helluva job out there,” he said. To have him running at you for 90 minutes, you don’t really dream about it to be honest. I think he did exceptionally well isolated out there.”