Graham Arnold's Socceroos Squad Update
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has provided an update on the squad and praised the efforts of his players as they return to action across the footballing world.
From lifting titles to fighting relegation in the English Premier League – Arnold’s men have pretty much done it all since football resumed from the COVID-19 break.
In Denmark, Awer Mabil lifted the Danish Superliga title with FC Midtjylland, while Mustafa Amini, Alex Gersbach and Zach Duncan helped AGF Aarhus to secure Europe League football.
Watch Arnold's Socceroos Squad Update in the video at the top!
And Arnold could not be prouder of the Aussies who are making their mark on Denmark.
"It was fantastic after the tough year that Mabil has had personally," Arnold told Socceroos.com.au.
"He was loaned out a couple of times to learn his trade and then to come back to Midtjylland, he has done fantastically.
"It's also fantastic to see AGF qualify for the Europa League for the first time in 23 years.
"It's a club with a great history and to have Musti as a main player there along with Zach Duncan and Alex Gersbach shows that there is a good flavour of Australian players within that club.
"I saw some celebrations and it looked very good."
Aziz Behich also lifted a title and etched his name into Turkish football history after his Istanbul Basaksehir secured their inaugural Super Lig title.
Despite limited playing time this season, Arnold praised the efforts of Behich who will go down as club legends after they secured their first ever top flight title.
"It hasn’t been an easy year for Aziz in terms of playing but knowing him as I do, he is a great team player and would have been hugely supportive of the group," Arnold explained.
"It a great result for them and to get an Australian to win a very tough European competition is fantastic."
In the English Premier League, Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy helped Brighton & Hove Albion to secure their top flight status with one game remaining.
And Arnold believes the COVID-19 break helped the Seagulls to ensure they remained in the top division for a fourth season since promotion in 2017.
"Brighton came back with a new found energy and they performed quite well since the break," he said.
"You can see that Maty and Aaron have played a very defining role in helping them to stay up.
"Maty has been superb all year, he is the only player to play every minute this year.
"He is a mainstay in the English Premier League, so to have him and Aaron stay in the league is fantastic."
Elsewhere in England, Arnold said it was "great to see Mass Luongo back at Sheffield Wednesday" after the midfielder has begun to feature in a more attacking role in recent weeks.
In Belgium, another Australian goalkeeper is back on the pitch and ready ply his trade again after a frustrating Achilles injury.
After almost 12 months away, Socceroos and Genk goalkeeper Danny Vukovic came on as a substitute in a pre-season match as he fights to regain his position as the club's regular number one when the new season kicks off in August.
"Vuka is in my view is a very talented and top goalkeeper," Arnold said.
"They clearly missed him last year when he wasn’t playing, goalkeepers win you championships and Vucca is one of them.
"It's great to see him back, he looks extremely fit and lighter than what he was before he did the injury.
"I've had a few conversations with him, he really feels like this was a bit of a break for him and now he has the motivation to go on and play at the top level for another few years."
Socceroos’ across Asia have also impressed in their respective leagues.
In Korea, Adam Taggart is getting back to his best after failing to score in Suwon Bluewings opening matches and Brandon O’Neill has cemented himself as a mainstay in the Pohang Steelers lineup.
Arnold has been impressed by their professionalism throughout the K League lockdown period and their performances since the season resumed.
"Both of those boys have done superbly in the start of the K League competition," he explained.
" It took a few weeks for Brandon to settle in but it seems he is now a mainstay in Pohang's squad.
"He is controlling the games very well and he's given them great balance in midfield.
"Tags started a little bit slow in terms of goalscoring but now he's back to his old self and you can see the confidence is there again."
In Japan, Mitch Langerak recorded back-to-back clean sheets for Nagoya Grampus as they rose to 4th on the J League ladder and remained undefeated, while Thomas Deng continues to find his feet for Urawa Red Diamonds.
Arnold praised Deng and reiterated the importance of youth team tournaments after the former Melbourne Vicory defender attracted the attention of the Japanese club's scouts during the Olyroos' qualifiers in Thailand earlier this year.
"When you represent the national team at any level, clubs are always watching, " Arnold explained.
"Thomas got picked up after the qualifiers and went across to Urawa in Japan who are a massive club.
"The fans love him and the feedback that I'm getting from Japan is that everyone is very happy with Thomas.
"Mitch Langerak at Nagoya is also doing very, very well.
"He’s playing in the J League every week and Nagoya are flying at the moment so it's great for him."
After a rejigging of the fixture list, the Hyundai A-League also returned last week with a new focus on giving younger players a chance.
Arnold applauded the quality of the matches since the restart, however, he admitted that he was slightly jealous that he has to wait till October before he can coach again.
"I'm happy to see the A-League back with a lot of young boys playing but jealous that I'm not a part of it," he said.
"The Socceroos will come together in October and we will get prepared for the second phase of our World Cup qualifying.
"We are missing the boys immensely but we will be back together soon."