Arnold pleased with improved attacking performance against Indonesia
Australia found a clinical edge in front of goal as they defeated Indonesia 4-0 in their Round of 16 clash at the Asian Cup.
An own goal opened the scoring followed by goals from Martin Boyle, Craig Goodwin and Harry Souttar as Australia cruised through to the next round.
Speaking after the match, head coach Graham Arnold said he was glad with the performance but heaped praise on Indonesia and their style of play.
“I think you have to give credit to Indonesia; they made it tough for us, physically they were very big and strong, and it was a tough game,” he said.
“Asian football has come along leaps and bounds, and we expected that, we said to the boys be ready for a fight, be ready for a physical battle because that is what Indonesia is going to bring.”
Over the course of the group stage, the Socceroos, at times, the Socceroos clinical edge has been called into question, with four goals in this match, Arnold said the players are starting to improve going forward.
“The improvements today were I think the individual belief, and some of the actions the boys were doing, in a lot of ways it was more freedom and more relaxed from them, and that’s what I want,” he said.
“I want them to show their individual qualities. It’s good to have a great system of play and it’s good to have great attacking patterns but I’d rather see these boys relax and show their skills and imagination, I saw that growing today.”
The 4-0 score line was great for the front line, of course, but it was also another important clean sheet, the third of the tournament for the Socceroos.
“For me keeping clean sheets is important, when you’re in a tournament situation, it is an important message for the team that even if you are up 2-0, keeping a clean sheet means we will win the game,” Arnold said.
“It builds belief and confidence in the defensive side of things. If you have a great mentality, you’ll get everyone to defend right.”
One of those defenders, Gethin Jones, was replaced in the 68th minute after picking up a groin injury.
Arnold said: “Gethin has gone straight to hospital, he has had a scan on his groin so we will know the answer to that in the next 24 hours, obviously it is what it is and very unfortunate for him.”
The match was Arnold’s 50th in charge of the Socceroos over his second spell in the role and he said the experience has been filled with plenty of great moments.
“I was only one goal off 100 in those 50 games, so it's a great result 50th game and this second reign has been great, with a lot of wins and a lot of great moments.
“Let's make this (the Asian Cup) one a more special moment.”
Looking ahead, Arnold didn’t want to speak on who he would prefer out of Saudi Arabia and South Korea in the Quarter Finals, but he did say the team will be ready for either opponent.
I can’t answer that question on which one I would prefer to play against, but we will go and watch Saudi against South Korea,” he said.
“We have a couple days off now to rest and recover which is crucial but overall, we’re just focussed on ourselves, it is the most important thing that we get our games right and our brains clear.
“The boys know their jobs and they can go out there and get it done.”
AFC ASIAN CUP QATAR 2023™ QUARTER FINAL
Australia v Saudi Arabia/South Korea
Saturday, February 3rd 2024
Al-Janoub Stadium, Al-Wakrah
Kick-off: 6:30pm local (2:30am AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+
Every AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 match will be live on Paramount+