Arnold: We Are Going There To Win It

Socceroos co-assistant coach Graham Arnold is very confident the squad of players chosen for the teams initial foray into Asia later this month, will be able to ‘get the job done’ against Bahrain.

Socceroos co-assistant coach Graham Arnold is very confident the squad of players chosen for the teams initial foray into Asia later this month, will be able to ‘get the job done- against Bahrain.

In what is a relatively inexperienced squad, at an international level, thanks to a host of unavailabilities through club commitments and the reluctance of clubs to release players on a non-international date, Arnold and his newly appointed co-assistant coach Johan Neeskans, named seven new players for their first ever call ups for an international match.

However despite this, Arnold is very confident that he and Johan have picked a side that will not just get a result, but be able to win the game.

“We are going there to win,” Arnold said emphatically to the media at the naming of the squad. “I am not going there just to make up the numbers and I am sure that goes for the players as well. It-s a squad that Johan and myself believe will do the job.

“I think they will step up, I am looking for a good result.

“I don-t care what Bahrain have to show, I have all the confidence in this side that we put out and the squad. This squad is going to be extremely motivated for a good performance both individually and as a team, to show Mr Hiddink what they can do, because we have said that places are open (for the World Cup squad in June).”

Arnold was quick to hose down suggestions this is an under-strength squad and believes the quality of the Hyundai A-League, which provided eight players in the 18-man squad, has put many in the frame for the 2006 World Cup squad in June.

“Very good,” when asked about the strength of this squad. “I think we have to get rid of the mentality that if the first so-called eleven aren-t available then its an under-strength side.

“I am very proud of this squad and the A-League boys have really proved that they really belong in the Socceroos shirt and they will wear it with a lot of pride.

“I have looked at a lot of A-League players this year and they have really stepped up. I think the professional football side of things of the A-League has taken the players to another level.”

Arnold used Sydney FC left-sided full back Alvin Ceccoli as prime example of this, the 31-year-old, who is making his first appearance for the national team since 1998, when he won four caps.

“I think Alvin is a great example. Since he has become a full-time player his form has improved a lot. He is a classic example for a lot of players not to give up.

“It-s great to hear Alvin-s comments that he is dreaming of going to the World Cup, because Guus has made it very clear to both myself and Johan that the squad for the World Cup is not settled; is not set in stone.”

The incentive of a place in the World Cup squad is sure to be a huge motivational factor for all these boys, as this will be their only chance to shine before the final camp in May.

“The players that are available for this Bahrain game have a wonderful opportunity to force themselves into the squad. He (Guus) has told us that he is going to the World Cup to be successful; not to be loyal.

“He has been to two past World Cup-s and reached the semi-finals both times and he wants to do the same with Australia, so he wants to take the best available 23 players that he knows that can do the job.”

Arnold and Neeskans, the former Dutch international who played in two losing World Cup finals (1974 & 1978), have scouted the Hyundai A-League and overseas players respectively and believe the majority of players chosen are in good form and ready to play.

“The players in the A-League have been scouted by myself, while overseas players have been scouted by Johan since he came on board. I gave Johan a list of players and he has checked on them and it-s also a great opportunity for these players as well.

“The reports that have come back from Johan have been very, very positive. The players are doing very well at their clubs, for example Scott McDonald and Brett Holman have been doing very well.”

Neeskens was also impressed with his first look of the Hyundai A-League last weekend and was looking forward to seeing how the players go during the finals.

“I was surprised; it was a very good level. I saw the three games of the competition last weekend and I am very glad to be to seeing the next games in the play-offs.”

Asked about going into Asia, Neeskens believes this will only help Australia-s development across the board, while Arnold believes this is a good opportunity to see where we are at football wise.

“I think its good for Australia.”

“The quality of countries in Asia is much better. For the team its much better to play against this kind of quality countries than we had before (in Oceania). Bahrain, Japan, Iran are a higher standard of quality than compared to other countries, so its only good.

“I am really looking forward to it,” said Arnold. “Because we are going into the unknown, its part of history, we are going into Asia and it-s the first time a Socceroos team is playing in an Asian Cup.

“It-s going to expose a lot more players to international football. In the past we haven-t been able to expose players to high intensity in important games and now we are going in against a side that was only just pipped for a place in the World Cup, we are playing them at their home, and it-s a great test case for these guys.

“The difference in levels from the A-League to international football is another two steps, so if we don-t see these guys now, how will we ever know.”