'We'll be ready': Arnold eager for Socceroos to pick up where they left off

Graham Arnold is confident that the Socceroos can overcome significant logistical challenges to pick up exactly where they left off in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying. 

Following a flawless second round of qualifying, which saw Australia register eight wins from eight matches, the quest for a fifth-straight appearance on the world stage recommences in early September. 

Australia will take on China and Vietnam, kick-starting the first two of ten vital final-round clashes in the coming months.  

With the location for Australia's opening fixture yet to be confirmed, the persisting challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic mean that the match will not take place on Australian shores. 


While this is set to spring up its fair share of obstacles surrounding squad selection, Arnold is confident that with a vast pool of potential players, based domestically and abroad, he will be able to assemble a team more than capable of getting the job done. 

"Probably about 65 letters will go out to the clubs and to the players," he shared. 

"Nothing's changed in terms of the fact FIFA windows are there for a reason, we expect the players to be there - but there are certain countries that have different restrictions and different ways of quarantining when you go home.

"A positive is that we are very fortunate that we've got a good 30 players overseas and they can get out of overseas and come and play wherever we are.

"They want to be in Australia and play in Australia. But if we had to rely on all players coming from Australia, then we probably wouldn’t be able to play because of the quarantine when we return.

I would say we're ready, we'll be ready to select a squad like normal, five or six days before the camp, and have everyone ready." 

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Arnold has remained abroad following Australia's campaign at Tokyo 2020, and is in the process of preparing for the road ahead before returning to camp later this month. 

At the same time, he has been keeping track of the positive progress Socceroos are making in clubland - where the likes of Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil and Tom Rogic have commenced their seasons in red-hot form. 

"We’ve got China [match one], and I'm using my time here to analyse China look at what their strengths and weaknesses are," he said. 

"It's great to see that Tommy Rogic starting with Ange (Postecoglou) at Celtic and scoring, Mabil scored in the Champions League against Celtic a few weeks ago, Martin Boyle is on fire at Hibs; there are a lot of great stories out there.

"So we've got a good number of very good players and I'm very positive about what lies ahead." 

Tom Rogic
Socceroos midfielder Tom Rogic is enjoying a consistent run of fixtures for Celtic under Ange Postecoglou

With the rise of Ajdin Hrustic throughout Australia's most recent qualifiers, the Socceroos appear to be continuing their proud tradition of posing plenty of options in the centre of the park. 

Considering the likes of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy, who were both unavailable for June's most recent national team window, Arnold provided an insight into the exciting ways his side could line up in midfield moving forward. 

"Tommy (Rogic is) playing under Ange as an eight," he said, "You know, so I could always have a great midfield of Mooy, Rogic and Hrustic.

“But I could also play Rogic as a false nine and then you've got Jackson Irvine, so we've got depth. 

"My strategy has always been around the national team you play the players to their strengths. The players make the system, the system doesn't make the players - so we obviously look at making sure we're playing those players in roles that they feel comfortable and their strengths are at.

"It's just great to see Tommy back on the pitch in doing well." 

Rogic's recent form is one of many positive stories emerging among the Socceroos currently plying their trade throughout Europe and Asia. 

It all adds to the anticipation of Arnold and his coaching staff; who despite whatever difficult circumstances may arise, have their sights set on earning Australia a place at Qatar 2022. 

"There's a lot of great stories out there of the boys doing exceptionally well," reflected Arnold. 

I can't wait to get them back together in the camp - because nothing worries me one bit about playing away from home.

"We've played eight games so far, we're one of two nations that have gone through all eight games undefeated, and we've played seven of those games away from home.

"So, it is what it is at the moment and I'll be going into those two games very positive. I expect six points from the first two games, and then we're on our journey, on our way." 

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