Arnold to keep counterpart guessing

Qantas Under 23 coach Graham Arnold will keep his Serbian counterpart guessing as to the make up of his starting side for their opening clash of the Beijing Olympics Games in a little over a week’s time, by not showing his hand in tomorrow night’s final warm-up friendly against Korea Republic in Seoul.

Qantas Under 23 coach Graham Arnold will keep his Serbian counterpart guessing as to the make up of his starting side for their opening clash of the Beijing Olympics Games in a little over a week-s time, by not showing his hand in tomorrow night-s final warm-up friendly against Korea Republic in Seoul.

Arnold has said he will not risk over-age players Jade North and Archie Thompson in tomorrow night-s game after picking up knocks, although recently arrived David Carney will definitely start in an attacking role.

“I-m not going to show my hand too much,” Arnold said after just arriving in the Korean capital from their training base on Jeju Island. “As the Serbian coach has admitted he doesn-t know much about us.”

“We-ve done a lot of technical training and a lot of good, hard work; I-ll train them hard again tonight before the game tomorrow. We won-t be taking any risks with a few players; Jade North and Archie Thompson copped a knock against Japan and at training respectively.

“The whole focus will be on getting another 90 minutes under our belts and making sure the 18 players are fit and ready for the first game (against Serbia). Both of them could play, but I am not prepared to risk them a week out before the first game against Serbia.”

With eight days to the opening game, Arnold is grateful that all his 18-man squad is accounted for in camp, as some of the competition heavyweights are embroiled in player rows with their club teams.

“We had all these people back home saying why we didn-t have all the over age boys from the overseas clubs. But I communicated with the clubs, probably about two months ago, and I knew then that they would not be released as there are no FIFA rules for over-age players.”

“I-m pretty happy he won-t be there, if he-s not going to be there,” Arnold said, when asked about Lionel Messi potentially not being part of the Argentina squad.

“He-s already shown he-s in good pre-season form; he scored a hat-trick in the second half the other day. He-s getting a lot of pressure from the Argentine press and even Diego Maradona has come out and said he-s got to make a decision.

“It could be unsettling for Argentina, but I don-t really care about them at this stage, I-m just worried about us and things are going along fine for us. We-ve had 10 days in the heat and we are acclimatizing well.”

Arnold goes into the final preparation game against the Koreans on the back of two straight losses against Asian counterparts China and Japan, but is not concerned these will have a detrimental effect on the group. “No, not at all,” he said, if concerned by the losses. “The first game we were flat from all the travel, but it-s all about getting players on the field; getting them used to the conditions.

“Both games we could have easily drawn or won, but our main focus in these three games was to get ourselves prepared physically and tactically for the first game against Serbia.

“Korea is a very, very good side as well and I predict one of the Asian teams will go very close to winning a medal,” he stated. “Japan; we played very well against them, but copped a late goal and seeing how Argentina just scrapped through with them last night, it showed how well we did play against Japan.

“The Asian-s are in their climate; their conditions, their environment and they showed at the 2002 World Cup when they are in their own countries, how well they can perform and I think one of them will go close to getting a medal, if not winning a medal.”

Arnold will again start Reading FC goalkeeper Adam Federici in goals for tomorrow-s match, but only because he has had limited time with the team, while David Carney will also play his first game with the team.

“Federici will play again tomorrow; he has only had 1 game with the Olympic team,” he said. “There are other things we are working on with the central defence pairing of Jade North and Matt Spiranovic with a new keeper; Milligan-s been playing in the centre of midfield with Musialik, so there is a few new players; new combinations.

“We-ve been working hard on our combinations at training and Federici needs another game with these players, so he-ll play tomorrow night.”

“He (Carney) has settled in very well. He-s been in 3-4 days; done all the training sessions; he-s one I know that can handle the heat and he-ll start tomorrow night for sure.

“He-ll play left side up front in a 4-3-3; he-ll be in the attacking part of the field.”

After tomorrow night-s game, Arnold will taper off the training as the team heads to the Olympic village and then onto Shanghai, where they will play their opening two matches of the group against Serbia and then Argentina.