Graham Arnold spoke to media at CommBank Stadium following the announcement the Subway Socceroos will face Lebanon on Thursday, 21 March 2024 in their FIFA World Cup 2026 Second Round Asian Qualifier.

Talking Points: Graham Arnold on Lebanon match and upcoming AFC Asian Cup

Graham Arnold spoke to the media after the announcement the Subway Socceroos will face Lebanon at CommBank Stadium in Sydney on Thursday, 21 March 2024 as their journey towards FIFA World Cup 2026™ continues.

Australia v Lebanon thin ticket banner

Looking forward to returning to CommBank Stadium

It's fantastic to be back in New South Wales to play this game against Lebanon in March, obviously got a fair bit of work to do before that. But I think this is probably the fourth or fifth game in the five years I've been in charge that we've played a game here in New South Wales. So the boys that we've that come from the western part of Sydney will be extremely excited about having this game here at Parramatta at CommBank Stadium and we continue this journey well. We started the campaign well, and we will continue that in March next year. So once again, the New South Wales Government thanks for the support and having this game here in Sydney and we're looking forward to it.

Planning for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™

There's a lot to consider with with obviously the Asian Cup, we've also got a very, very important Olympic program as well. So I'm working very closely with Tony Vidmar that we get everything right in terms of player selection for both because this Asian Cup was meant to be over six months ago, and obviously, the Olympic qualifiers have been moved from January back to April. So it's important that we get our planning and our preparation right.

Impending AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ squad selection

I'm probably selecting it (the squad) quite early, if I'm honest obviously because of Christmas, and those types of things and players over in Europe finish their seasons roughly around the 20th/23rd and then they get some time off. And, you know it's good that they're gonna get a break, but at the same time, they've got to be ready to to get into Doha on the first of January... But it's great that we're going back to Qatar, because it's a familiar territory, it was like a home away from home for us and the boys are very familiar with it and we're looking forward to it.

Challenges of dealing with clubs to release players

This Asian Cup is probably not the best timing, the players are getting pressure from their clubs back in back in Europe. If I was going to say anything about the AFC, they should really seriously look at when they do play the Asian Cup in January because yes, it suits Middle East nations. But I can imagine (Hajime) Moriyasu of Japan and Jurgen Klinsmann at South Korea are probably having the same issues we're having with clubs at the moment, because of all of our boys are playing in Europe, so a lot of our boys, if they do come to the Asian Cup, they can miss eight club games. So it's a period there that the clubs are obviously looking at so it's just about managing all this and getting ready.

Expectations and importance of performing to continue climbing the FIFA Rankings

I think that's the biggest thing about this Asian Cup is obviously our expectations and my expectations, every time we go on the field is to win. And to go there and to win the Asian Cup. That's the messaging to the players straight away. But one big point that is crucial is our ranking. Because if you do well at the Asian Cup and your ranking goes up, that makes our World Cup qualifies our draw better for us. That's the message to the players, at the moment we're setting fourth in Asia at this moment with the way the World Cup qualifiers will be the next part of it will be at this moment, we'll be in part two, where you know, one, two, and three are in one. And then us being ranked fouth. We'll be the best second pot team. So it's important if we can to do really well and get up in pot one and that will help our draw completely.

Keeping an eye on Mathew Leckie following return from injury

Obviously, I'll be going to watch Lecks (Mathew Leckie) live and in the Champions League game against Kofu he looked well. But it's how he goes over the next few weeks. And Lecks brings something to the squad that we don't have really a big luxury in, is his capacity to play in different positions. He can play left wing, right wing, centre forward, number eight. And with his experience, it brings you something different. So obviously I'll be out watching him as well as other players over the next few weeks.

Subway Socceroos v Lebanon

Date: Thursday, 21 March 2024
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Time: 8.00pm AEDT
Ticket Prices: Start from $20 Child, $25 Concession, $30 Adult, $80 Family
Football Account Pre-Sale: 3.00pm AEDT on Wednesday, 6 December 2023
General Public On-Sale: 3.00pm AEDT on Friday, 8 December 2023 via Ticketek 
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+