Arnold to take ‘strongest team available’ to face Kuwait in Perth
Graham Arnold has promised to field his strongest possible Socceroos line-up and put on a show for Western Australian fans on the road to Qatar 2022™.
The Green and Gold will go head-to-head with Kuwait in their fifth FIFA World Cup™ qualifying match on Thursday, 26 March, aiming to improve their perfect record to five wins in a row.
Arnold’s side sit top of Group B in the second round of Asian Football Confederation qualifying, with their sights locked on advancing to the next stage of their journey towards qualifying for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup™.
Brighton’s Premier League pair Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy have been ever-present in Australia’s line-up in this campaign, as have Jackson Irvine and Rhyan Grant, while the likes of Milos Degenek and Adam Taggart have started three times of the four games.
While Arnold admits his selection is based on fitness in club football, the Australia coach expects a full-strength Socceroos side to light up HBF Park.
“We will bring our strongest team available, 100%, so the fans know that – I’m promising that,” Arnold said.
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“Unless there some type of injuries that we can’t do anything about but otherwise, our strongest team, we expect to win the game, and put on a great performance in front of the Perth fans and WA.
“We’re very grateful to the WA government and WA tourism for hosting this game and it’ll be great to get back here and play in Australia. It’s been a long time.”
Since competing on the global stage at the FIFA World Cup™ in Russia more than 18 months ago, Arnold has only led his team out on Aussies soil three times – in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.
It is the Green and Gold’s first trip out west since September 2016, which resulted in a 2-0 win against Iraq, and Arnold cannot wait to walk out with his side on Western Australian turf.
“It’s always a great place to come,” Arnold added.
“It’s a beautiful football stadium. It’s great for the fans as well because they are close to the action.
“The boys are really excited to come home. We’ve only had three games back in Australia in the last two years since the 2018 World Cup.
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“They haven’t connected with the fans as they probably would have liked and, as much, and for them to come back feel the Australian love that the Australian fans give them is very important to the players.”
The Socceroos have already claimed a 3-0 victory against Kuwait in this campaign, at Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in September 2019, where Matthew Leckie scored twice and Mooy was on the scoresheet.
That kick-started the winning run ahead of a 5-0 hammering of Nepal, a 7-1 rout in Chinese Taipei and a hard-fought 1-0 triumph on the road against Jordan, leaving Australia in pole position to progress in the competition.
“We started the campaign very well,” Arnold added. “We’re sitting at the moment second in Asia with our points and our wins, so I expect that to continue and I expect us to grow as a team.”
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 second round qualifying
Australia v Kuwait
Thursday, 26 March 2020
Venue: HBF Park, Perth
Kick-off: 6.00pm local, 9.00pm AEDT
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Nepal v Australia
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Australia v Chinese Taipei
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Australia v Jordan
Tuesday, 9 June 2020