‘What he did is just amazing’: Arnold praises Mooy’s Socceroos dedication

After his outstanding displays in June, Graham Arnold was full of praise for Aaron Mooy’s single-minded determination to help Australia qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. 

Mooy arrived in camp having not played a competitive match since the Socceroos' 2-2 draw with Oman in Muscat in February.

Fearing quarantine restrictions in China could have left him unavailable for the World Cup play-offs against the United Arab Emirates and Peru, Mooy chose not to return for Shanghai Port's delayed start to the Chinese Super League.

Instead, he decided to stay in Scotland and work with the Socceroos' former strength and conditioning expert Andrew Clark.

While he was not involved in any matches, Mooy worked closely with Arnold and Clark to build up his fitness and sharpness.

And the decision to put the Socceroos first ended in the 31-year-old playing a key role in Australia's World Cup qualification.

Aaron Mooy played a key role in the Socceroos' World Cup qualification.

Mooy not only played a full 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over the UAE but completed the entire 120 minutes of the Peru match and slotted away a penalty to clinch qualification. 

According to Arnold, no one epitomised the Socceroos'determination to qualify more than Mooy.

“What that kid did is just amazing, his performance in Qatar, for a guy that hadn’t played for two months,” Arnold said. 

“He worked individually to keep fit with Andrew Clark over in Scotland.

The fact he could go into a friendly game, play 45 minutes, then a massive qualifier against the UAE, play 90 and then play 120 and step up for the penalty shootout just shows where he was at mentally, and how driven he was for us to qualify.”

Aaron Mooy

With his club future up in the air, Mooy’s next challenge is to find a regular football ahead of November's tournament.

“What’s important is that Aaron gets game time,” Arnold added.

Just as long as he’s playing in a good league ... at the end of the day, it’s the players as individuals that decide where they play and I’m always there to support them. 

“The boys have three to four months to go back to their clubs, work hard, be in great form, great shape, and prove to not only myself but to everyone that they deserve to be on the selection sheet to go to Qatar.”

With FIFA approving 26-man squads for the 2022 World Cup, Arnold is looking forward to Australian players putting their hands up to earn a spot in his squad for November's World Cup.

Arnold is excited to see players stake a claim for World Cup selection.

The A-League Men's season has also been brought forward to give Australian-based players the best possible opportunity to impress. 

Arnold indicated that the door is open to all players, even those uncapped.

“I really appreciate that the APL has started the season earlier,” Arnold explained. 

“Those extra three weeks and couple of games are huge because it means the players will be fully fit and ready because normally it takes you a good four weeks to get going. Especially after a long off-season.

It gives everyone an opportunity. To have three extra players gives us more choice to look at players in positions where we can add some creativity. 

“In the two games we have against New Zealand, I will be using two different teams and giving everyone that opportunity to get on that team sheet to go to Qatar.”

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