Players Are Desperate To Qualify - Arnold
Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold believes the players are desperate to end the 32-year absence of Australia from football’s biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, as for some, its make it now or miss the chance.
Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold believes the players are desperate to end the 32-year absence of Australia from football-s biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, as for some, its make it now or miss the chance.
Arnold (pictured right), who was involved in three qualifying campaigns as a player and one as a coach, which all ended in defeat, knows exactly how many of the players are feeling, especially those that are beyond the age of 30.
"They are as desperate as the Australian sporting public and the football fraternity here in Australia to qualify,” said Arnold, at the teams base in Sydney. “This is what these guys dream about."
"The desperation and commitment from the players is there because for a lot of them this is it. This is their last chance."
“The two games against Solomon Islands are a great start for us and I know the players are keen as mustard."
The majority of players have now arrived for the two Powerade Series matches against the Solomon Islands, for the right to play the 5th place team from South America for the final spot at the 2006 World Cup, to be played in Germany. The first match is in Sydney on Saturday night at Aussie Stadium, with the return leg three days later in Honiara.
Arnold believes, with many players backing up from the last failed attempt in 2001 in Uruguay, they will be better prepared for what lies ahead.
"We've learnt a lot of lessons in the past and the players are at a stage now where they are more experienced,” Arnold added.
”The average age of a World Cup-winning side is 28-29 and we are at that now.”
The two games will be the first games under new coach Guus Hiddink and while most predict a landslide aggregate win, Arnold said Australia would be concentrating on winning and performance, rather than trying to win by big score lines.
Those thoughts were echoed by Mark Viduka, appearing on Rove Live, when asked if they were a little cocky going into these two games against the Oceania minnows.
“I don-t think it-s a case of being cocky,” said Viduka. “Obviously we are expecting to win, but we really need to use the games and training to prepare for the next games (against the South Americans).”
Viduka wasn-t even born the last time Australia qualified for its only appearance in the World Cup finals in West Germany in 1974.
“As a kid, I watched all the teams try to qualify and I have been involved in the last two myself. It would be great to help get us back to the Germany, where we qualified for our only previous appearance.”
MATCH DETAILS Australia v Solomon Islands Powerade Series Match Saturday 3 September 2005 Aussie Stadium, Sydney
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