‘We have a lot of belief’: Arnold’s troops ready for anything in massive semi-final clash

Graham Arnold says Australia is “physically and mentally” ready to handle anything in Thursday morning’s (AEDT) AFC U-23 Championship semi-final against Korea Republic.

The young Aussies are on the cusp of not only reaching the final of this tournament for the first time with a win in Bangkok but will also qualify for this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

The two sides know each other well having met just prior to the tournament in a friendly in Malaysia – which finished 1-1 – while they also played out a 2-2 draw in qualifying last March.

Korea Republic have been impressive so far in Thailand, having won all four of their matches on route to the last four.

Coach Kim Hak-bum has rotated his squad throughout but Arnold said regardless of which players his side faces, they are aware of what to expect from the Koreans.

“We are across all that detail that they have made a lot of changes. We know Korea (Republic) have a lot of depth in their squad,” Arnold said at the official pre-match press conference.

MORE: ‘Bring the energy!’: Deng reveals key to Australia’s success against Korea
MORE: Get to know the Australia U-23 squad

“It might be different players, but as the coach said we played against each other in Cambodia, we played against each other in Malaysia. We’ve watched the first four games that they played here. The players may change but the style will stay the same, the system will stay the same.

“We have done very similar things (squad rotation) and we are ready for it physically and mentally. I feel and we feel that we have grown a lot in this tournament, our team, compared to where we were when we first started.

"With that growth we have a lot of belief, and that belief is obviously going out against a top nation in South Korea and winning the game.”

Australian players celebrate Al Hassan Toure's goal in the semi-final

Australia had to come through extra-time against Syria to book their semi-final spot and Arnold is adamant his players are prepared to do that again if it means getting to the final.

“With the playing side of it I think mentally we have proven to all the other teams that we can do 120 minutes at full gas,” the Australian boss said.

“No one else has shown that since we have been at the tournament, so we know tomorrow that if the game does 90 minutes or 120 minutes, we are ready for both and all the other teams aren’t. We see that as an advantage.

“We don’t even talk about Olympic qualification – we talk about winning the Asian Cup or getting to the Final of the Asian Cup and the rest will look after itself.”

MORE: ‘Two more boxes to tick’: Arnold’s U-23’s eyeing AFC Championship glory
WATCH: Live Stream - Australia U-23 v Korea Republic U-23

Australia U-23 Men’s National Team – Upcoming Fixture

Australia U-23 v Korea Republic U-23 – AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 Semi Final
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
Venue: Thammasat Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand  
Kick-off: 8.15pm (local); 12.15pm +1 (AEDT)
Stream/Broadcast (Australia Only): Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, My Football YouTube Channel

Copa America 2020