Arnold: History beckons for current crop of Caltex Socceroos

Graham Arnold believes his 23-player squad will take the first step on their journey towards becoming the ‘greatest Caltex Socceroos team ever’ in their FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying opener.

Arnold’s Caltex Socceroos travel to the Persian Gulf to take on Kuwait at Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium on Tuesday 10 September (AEST) as the road to Qatar 2022 gets under way.

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Australia will also face challenges from Nepal, Chinese Taipei and Jordan over the next 12 months in their bid to advance to the next stage of Asian Football Confederation qualifying.

And Arnold’s assembled roster are aiming for the stars, with the Caltex Socceroos head coach believing his group have the ability to write their names at the top of the pantheon of Caltex Socceroos greats. 


“Every time I’ve coached and every time I have played, my mindset is always going on the field expecting to win the game, and nothing changes,” Arnold said.

“Things can happen in games but you send the players out in a great mindset and going out and expecting to win the game. I don’t send players out trying not to lose. There’s a big difference between the two.

“We have a great environment, the team morale is great. It’s a new journey for a lot of players. For the more experienced players it’s a journey they have been on and that will help those younger players. 

“It’s an exciting squad, a mixture of experience and youth but it’s all about giving people the opportunity to take the Socceroos to another level.”

“In my mindset, I believe that at the end of this we’ll be the greatest Socceroos team ever.”

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Since his arrival in the Caltex Socceroos head coach's office, Arnold says his team has proven capable of controlling matches. Now he wants to see them be lethal in front of goal.

Arnold will work on the team's attacking shape in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying opener in Kuwait, where his side opened his tenure with a 4-0 win back in October 2018.

“Whether we play with three nines, very narrow, or two wingers high and wide, and two eights, or with two sixes, it’s all about the quality in the final third,” Arnold added.

“We’ve shown in the past since I’ve been in charge we’ve dominated and created every game. I got an independent review of our performances that I will show the players this week that will show we’ve dictated every game in terms of possession, shots, final third entries and it’s just about being ruthless and using that individual quality.

“We have players that can make a difference and that’s a big thing. When you are playing against packed defences and you don’t have that individual quality of a one-v-one action that can go past players, it makes it tough. 

“But we have that now and I have a lot of belief in these boys and the front third of the pitch is something we’ll work hard on this camp.

“We’ve worked hard in the previous camps on our defensive structure, how to press and how to build up, but this camp we will work a lot on our combination play and attacking play and I look forward to that.”


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Arnold on Adam Taggart’s red-hot form in Korea Republic

He’s loving playing there. He’s doing exceptionally well, scoring goals and thoroughly deserves his selection in the squad. 

“He’s shown he’s a great finisher, he had a period there where he was injured at times but he’s in top condition now, in great form and I expect him to fit perfectly into our system and replicate what he’s doing in clubland in the national team with us.”

Arnold on Mark Milligan playing throughout the campaign

“Millsy is a great leader and over the past year we’ve lost players with retirement and Mark has fully committed to us. It’s one step at a time. 

‘I’ve had a lot of communication with Mark, we’ve spoken a lot about this type of thing and when I say one step at a time, for now it’s the Kuwait camp and making sure that everyone is fit and healthy and Mark is in great shape. 

“We’ll make those decisions as we go further but on my side of it Mark is still a great leader of the Socceroos, a great leader around the boys, we value Mark and his leadership.”

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Arnold on Milos Degenek’s return to Red Star Belgarde

“We had those conversations about where to go after he left Saudi [Arabia] and he chose to go back to Red Star where he felt very comfortable in that environment which is important for a player. 

“He’s gone back there and it’s a fantastic story. He’s doing exceptionally well, he scored in the first leg to help them get through [to the Champions League] and the fact that players are playing at that level and playing against those types of players in the Champions League is just great for the Socceroos. 

“I’ve been over in Europe for the last 5 weeks, moving around to a lot of the boys and it’s been really good just to see the players in their own environment.

“For Milos, the fact he’s in those conditions and playing those types of games is only going to be great for us.”

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Arnold on Brandon Borrello’s Bundesliga break through

“Brandon Borrello is really exciting for me. Doing great in the Bundesliga, he’s got a great mindset of hard work and these types of players in the front half of the pitch and the players coming through now that have that x-factor is exciting.

The fact he can play anywhere along the front line is important. The flexibility that I like to play up front with the likes of Leckie, Mabil, Taggart, Giannou, Maclaren, with Goodwin and Borrello, is that at any time they can play anywhere along the front line.

“That’s what was so interesting about this group of players is that they bring something completely different. It’s exciting the front part of the field and having Brandon Borrello that can play in different roles which is great.

“When you speak to the kid [Borrello] he’s just got this wonderful mindset of hard work. For example, he says to me ‘maybe I’ll have a game where I might not do much with the ball but I can still run and still work hard defensively for the team and press and make sure that I’m doing a job for the team even if I’m having a bad day with the ball’. 

“That type of mindset and making sure the team is number one is very important.”

Watch Kuwait v Australia from 1:30am AEST on Wednesday 11 September live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and via the My Football Live App, Live, Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers.

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