Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – There is no chance of Mathew Ryan getting homesick at the World Cup — the Australia goalkeeper has paid for 27 members of his family to come out to Russia and support him and the Socceroos.
“It is the first time other than my mother and my sister that I’ve paid for my family to come across and watch,” Ryan said on Monday, ahead of Australia’s crucial final group game in Russia against Peru.
“Obviously a World Cup doesn’t come around every so often, so the chance to share something like this with them, it was a no-brainer.
“I asked my family members if they were interested, if they were able to come across, and half of them said yes, so half of them are still at home. It’s a little better for the bank account I guess!”
The 26-year-old goalkeeper from New South Wales has had his family in tow as he played in both of Australia’s matches so far, a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of France and then a 1-1 draw with Denmark.
“There is nothing better than being able to treat your family well and look after them and I’m very fortunate and thankful to football for allowing me to do that,” said Ryan, who now plays for Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.
His entourage ranges from his three-year old cousin to his grandfather, who is in his 70s.
It is a larger group than Bert van Marwijk’s entire squad of 23 who still have a slim chance of emulating Guus Hiddink’s team of 2006 that reached the last 16 in Germany.
“Fortunately the life I live now enables me to try to give back to them a little bit, and for me to share this experience with them is going to be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Australia need to beat already-eliminated Peru at the Fisht Stadium and hope Denmark lose to France at the same time in order to avoid a group-stage elimination.
And despite the strain on his wallet, Ryan, who has also played for Club Brugge and Valencia since leaving his homeland in 2013, is hoping the family adventure is not going to end just yet.
“Definitely not. Our plan is not to leave and it won’t be their plan either,” he said.
– Peru seek consolation win –
Peru are already out but performed well enough in narrow defeats against Denmark and France to ensure that the Australians will not be taking them lightly.
The South Americans will have a huge support with them by the Black Sea as they attempt to claim a consolation victory in their first appearance at the World Cup since 1982.
“I know that Peru is a good team, and has shown it already here at the World Cup, although they are not qualified for the next round,” said Van Marwijk.
Striker Andrew Nabbout is set to miss the game after dislocating his shoulder against Denmark, so Tomi Juric should replace him in the Socceroos’ attack.
Meanwhile, Peru coach Ricardo Gareca confirmed that forward Jefferson Farfan will miss his side’s final game as he recovers from a concussion suffered in training.
“We don’t want to leave here empty-handed,” warned veteran forward Paolo Guerrero.