Maclaren: Refreshed and focused Socceroos are ready to fire

Socceroos forward Jamie Maclaren believes the day’s break granted to the players by Graham Arnold and staff has freshened up the squad ahead of their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ clash with Uzbekistan. 

Australia face the White Wolves knowing a win will earn them a quarter-finals berth against either hosts United Arab Emirates or Kyrgyz Republic.

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Maclaren believes a day off prior to three days of training ahead of the match has paid dividends and will put the squad in good nick ahead of the do-or-die encounter.

“It’s important — seeing family and the stuff that really matters, and we’re only as good as the people around us,” Maclaren said. 

“I think for us to have the family so close, it was great.

“It’s so important for us to freshen the minds, but now we’ve hit the ground running and we’re just fully focused on Monday night [Tuesday morning AEDT].”

Maclaren praised the attacking approach Arnold has introduced to the squad, reaping the rewards himself after he grabbed his maiden Socceroos goal in Australia’s 3-0 win over Palestine. 

The Hibernian marksman hasn’t been the only player to benefit under this style, with the likes of Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis enjoying some of the best form of their lives. 

Maclaren insisted the squad were focused solely on their own performance and would not diverge from their path as they prepared to take on Uzbekistan.

“We’ve seen a bit about Uzbekistan (and how they set up), but for us it’s just completely worrying about us, the way we attack, the way we defend,” Maclaren said.

“I feel like the squad’s so confident, whether it’s from start to finish, we’re always creating chances, we’re always scoring goals.

“I think people were talking about how we wouldn’t create chances and score goals, but we’ve done that. 

“The squad’s confident and we’re really looking forward to Monday.”

All hands on deck

Arnold’s shake-up has seen the Socceroos employ a three-pronged attack which gives the team more avenues to wreak havoc on opposition defences. 

And with Australia’s six goals coming from five different players, the bold plans appear to be paying dividends.

“For the boys who play out wide, it’s almost like a little bit narrow,” Maclaren said.

“For us, it’s about having guys there who just give you support and obviously with the coaching staff giving us that sort of freedom to go out there and enjoy your football. 

“The boys are confident, whether it’s boys coming off the bench, Apo (Giannou) is doing fantastic off the bench, hitting the post the other night. 

“So everyone chipping in with appearances is creating something.”