'I'm very proud': Graham Arnold lauds impact of inexperienced Socceroos
Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold was pleased with what he saw as his new-look Australia side enjoyed a 5-1 victory over Chinese Taipei on Tuesday morning (AEST).
Captain in Kuwait City Trent Sainsbury entered the match with 48 international caps to his name - while the rest of the starting eleven, combined, totalled 44.
Midfielder Denis Genreau started and impressed, becoming Socceroo cap #610 in the process, while fellow A-League players Connor Metcalfe (cap #611) and Ruon Tongyik (cap #612) were introduced during the second half for their first taste of senior international football.
Both Riley McGree and Kenny Dougall dictated play in the centre of the park during their starting debuts in Green and Gold, while Curtis Good held his own at left-back during what was his first appearance for the national team since 2014.
McGree took home Player of the Match honours and was responsible for two of Australia's first three goals, whipping in pinpoint set-piece deliveries for central defenders Harry Souttar and Trent Sainsbury to head home.
"I was very, very proud of the boys, we had a lot of young players tonight making their debut," said Arnold.
"It's an opportunity to give younger players a chance to show what they can do and I was very happy with the way the boys went.
"We had a very inexperienced team that was given an opportunity with only a couple of senior players around them and I thought they handled everything really, really well and I couldn't be prouder."
After missing international football for 18 months, Arnold is grateful for the opportunity to finally provide his up-and-coming players with some vital experience on the international stage.
Having made eleven changes to the side that started last week's 3-0 victory over Kuwait, the Socceroos have now deployed 26 of their 30 players available for selection - following the withdrawal of fullback Brad Smith due to injury.
Overall, the head coach was pleased with his side's showing while maintaining there is further room for improvement in their final two June FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
"The only way you're going to develop in your career is when you get an opportunity," explained Arnold.
"I think most importantly our patterns of play were working but sometimes it was the end pass - but that's what happens when you throw a new team together.
Overall we created chances and that's the hardest thing... the performance was very good."
With Souttar proving commanding on corners again - nodding in his fifth international goal during just three Socceroos appearances, Arnold raised the importance of set-piece scenarios moving forward.
"Set pieces are crucial in elite football now," he said.
"The fact that we scored from the set pieces is great. That means the boys are taking note of what we're doing at training and they're playing their roles."
The Socceroos return to action on Saturday morning (AEST), when they face Nepal. A win would be enough to secure top spot in Group B guarantee passage to the third and final phase of Asian Qualifying.
Nepal v Australia
Date: Friday, 11 June 2021
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Kick-off: 7pm (local) – 2am Saturday, 12 June 2021 AEST
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and My Football Live App
Australia v Jordan
Date: Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App