Following this week's announcement of the Socceroos' return to Brisbane, Head Coach Graham Arnold labelled September's match as the perfect opportunity for the nation to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our national team.
The Socceroos will play their final game in Australia prior to contesting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ on Thursday, 22 September (8.00pm AEST kick-off) against New Zealand’s All Whites.
While the match will give fans an opportunity to farewell players ahead of the World Cup, it will also double as a Centenary celebration, with 2022 marking 100 years since the Socceroos played the first ‘A’ international match in Dunedin, New Zealand.
A year later in 1923, the first ‘A’ international Socceroos match on home soil was contested at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.
Queensland was well represented in the very first men’s national team and that connection will be honoured through this Centenary match at Suncorp Stadium.
“First and foremost, it's a great opportunity for the fans to come in and say goodbye to the boys and really show them a lot of support,” Arnold said.
“Secondly, to play New Zealand in a friendly game is a great opportunity for the boys to show us coaching staff where they're at physically but also how they're ready to go at the World Cup.
“And then thirdly, is the fact that we have this great stadium that we're going to play this game in and make sure the boys are ready.
Let's also not forget this is our 100-year celebration for the Socceroos. It's such a unique experience and it will be a unique night that gives the nation an opportunity to celebrate it. For me, that's the most important thing.”
The Socceroos’ match in Brisbane will be their first at Suncorp Stadium since November 17, 2018, when they drew 1-1 with South Korea in just Arnold’s second match in charge of the team.
But Arnold’s ties to the city do not end there. In 2006, after taking over as interim head coach following Guus Hiddink’s departure, Arnold’s first game at the helm was a 1-1 draw with Paraguay at Suncorp Stadium.
“I’ve always loved Suncorp,” Arnold explained.
It's always great to watch other sports on it but also, to play football on and to play here with the national team.
“It's a rectangle stadium and the crowd is so close. It feels like they're on top of you here and they're a great 12th man so it's always great to play here.”