‘We were scoring goals for fun’: Arnold reflects on first Caltex Socceroos training camp

It was just over a week together but coach Graham Arnold says he can already feel “a great connection” with his Caltex Socceroos squad after their training camp in Turkey.

Arnold left Antalya on Tuesday after eight solid days on the training park content with what he had seen from his mix of experienced stars and fresh faces to the squad.

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For Arnold, the camp wasn’t just about what the players did on the pitch but also about getting to know his squad and building relationships between the group and coaching staff.

“It was great for me and the coaching staff because we got to work up close with all the players,” Arnold told www.socceroos.com.au.

“The kids that we brought in, the fresh faces did exceptionally well, they added a lot of energy to the training sessions, they added a lot of enthusiasm in and around the place and they had a fantastic week.

“It’s such an important ingredient to get right for myself to have great people around me but also great support around me,” the Caltex Socceroos boss added.

“I do believe I have a great connection with the staff, they are great at the jobs they do individually.

“I felt a real good connection with the players with Andrew Clark and Phil Coles in the medical department.

“And I felt a good connection with the senior players with Rene who does a great job. Overall I couldn’t be happier with the way that everything went this week.”

Gearing up for their first game

While the players now head back to their clubs right around the globe, it won’t be long until the squad reassembles with the next international window just over a month away.

And it should give Arnold the first chance to see his players in a game situation, with the Caltex Socceroos set to play a friendly match in the Middle East.

“We’ve been working hard this week on adding layers to what we believe the strengths were from the Socceroos at the World Cup,” Arnold said.

“We had small meetings and the players bought into exactly what we needed them to do. We asked them where they felt the improvement can be and they pretty much, in small groups, answered those questions we wanted and they put them forward.

“We worked extremely hard this week on our rotations and our attacking intent. Yesterday we had a four-by-15 minutes game and we were scoring goals for fun.

“So it will be great to put that into practice against an opposition that doesn’t know what we’re doing.”

Caltex Socceroos training

What’s next for Arnold?

Ahead of reuniting with his squad in October, Arnold and his coaching staff will embark on a charm offensive tour of Europe and Asia to build relationships with the clubs of his players.

He’ll start in Scotland this week meeting Brendan Rodgers at Celtic – where Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani are based – before heading to Hearts and Hibernian and then down to England.

After the UK, Arnold will also head to Holland, Germany and Belgium, while assistants Rene Meulensteen, Andrew Clark and Phil Coles will also be getting around to various clubs.

“I’ve just felt from past experiences that one way to make life easier for the players, but also ourselves, is making a relationship or connection with the clubs in Europe who own the players,” the Caltex Socceroos boss said.

“We’re borrowing the players, we get them for three days to 10 days at a time. If we can make that work well, which we will, the relationship will make the players even better.

Arnold added: “While I’m [away], Phil Coles will be going around to all the players that have injuries. Mathew Leckie, Brandon Borrello, Tommy Rogic and checking up on them and making sure they are ok.

“Andrew Clark will be going to Saudi Arabia to do the Saudi boys, then across to Korea and Japan to see Andrew Nabbout and then we’ll connect up in October for our friendly.”