Souttar to make Caltex Socceroos debut against Nepal
Uncapped defender Harry Souttar will make a dream Caltex Socceroos debut in their FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifier against Nepal in Canberra tonight.
The 20-year-old, whose brother John plays for Scotland, switched allegiance to Australia earlier this year and played for the U23 team.
And having impressed coach Graham Arnold in a couple of previous Caltex Socceroos camps, the 198cm central defender is set to be unleashed against Nepal at GIO Stadium.
It will be a proud moment for Souttar – whose mother hails from Port Headland in WA – who only arrived in Australia for the first time a few days ago.
"I can disclose that Harry will start," Arnold said at the official pre-match press conference.
"It's a great moment for Harry because Harry has lived over in the UK his whole life, but even as a kid he had posters in his room of the Socceroos boys.
"He's been an Australian football fan all of his junior life and you know his brother plays Scotland so we might have to tee up a friendly between Australia and Scotland.
"It's a great occasion for Harry and for him to do it here in Australia is fantastic."
Belief key for Caltex Socceroos
Goals and penetration have been Arnold's mantra ahead of the clash against Nepal in what is his side's first match on home soil in 2019.
And the Caltex Socceroos boss expect his side to show no mercy to their 166th-ranked opponents, desperate to thrill the home fans as Australia take the next step on the road to Qatar 2022.
“The boys are believing, you can see they are believing in what they are doing,” he said.
“For me, it’s not about the team in the opposition dressing room it’s about the team in my dressing room and making sure the attitude is right.
“Everyone would agree technically, tactically and physically we are stronger [than Nepal], and we are.
“The mental side of it is about attitude and these type of games is all about attitude and making sure that we are on our game mentally and if we do that I expect a great performance and a great result.”
It’s time to get ruthless
Since taking charge of the Caltex Socceroos last year, Arnold's main focus has been on instilling a ruthless streak to his side, especially in the attacking third.
Content with Australia’s ability to control matches, it's finding ways to improve the team’s attacking shape which is key to becoming more lethal in front of goal.
“I’m a coach that is always looking to improve the team and I did an independent analysis and I learned quite a bit from that,” Arnold said.
“A lot of it was around the penetration around the runs in behind and breaking the last line in that block defence and putting players in the right positions to do that.
“We worked on that in Dubai before the Kuwait game and I think you saw that in the first half there was a lot of good football played.
“I expect that for 90 minutes in great conditions and on a great pitch.”
Options aplenty for Arnie
The Caltex Socceroos started their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Kuwait last month.
It was an encouraging first-up display but Arnold is expecting his side to go to another level against Nepal, with competition for places as strong as it’s ever been.
“The boys are really coming along well as a group. We have a lot of depth, we have created a lot of depth in the last 12 months,” he said.
“It’s an important qualifier and one that my expectations are very high. It’s a great opportunity to show the great people of Canberra, the fans, what we can do.
“The players are excited to be here in Australia, it’s been a year since the Socceroos have played in this country and all the boys are always very keen to play in front of their families, their friends and the fans of Australia.”