Arnold hoping to emulate - and surpass - the 2006 Socceroos

By Sports Desk November 29, 2022 102

Coach Graham Arnold aims to "put smiles on Australian faces" on Wednesday by emulating the great Socceroos team of 2006 and advancing to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Australia head into their final Group D game knowing a win against Denmark will be enough to see them reach the round of 16 for just the second time in the nation's history. A draw would also be enough unless Tunisia beat defending champions France.

Arnold was an assistant to Guus Hiddink 16 years ago and he understands the size of the prize on offer.

He said: "That's the whole purpose. My whole goal is to put smiles on Australian faces. It's not about me, it's about the game in Australia.

"If you're not Australian and you don't know, football is probably the fourth or fifth-main sport. To leave a legacy is huge and in 2006, what that generation did... these guys [the current squad] grew up watching them and they were their inspiration.

"Even now at dinner, this generation talk about matching the achievements of 2006 but there is so much more to do."

Midfielder Mathew Leckie added: "It's huge for the sport. I don't know how much it will impact young kids but when they watch it on television and see how big the World Cup is, they may decide to be a footballer rather than, say, an AFL player.

"The World Cup and the Socceroos bring the country together. We can create something special but we haven't done anything yet, without a result on Wednesday it means nothing."

Denmark also have plenty to play for at Al Janoub, a win would likely see them progress at Australia's expense and Arnold is certainly not getting ahead of himself.

"They are a strong team, ranked 10 in the world, but the focus is on ourselves and making sure the players recover well and are ready to go," he said.

"They have been a top team throughout Europe for a long time. We can only do so much worrying about them, the focus has to be on ourselves. They can play two systems, 3-4-3 or a 4-3-3, so we have to be ready for them tactically."

Although a draw may be enough, the Socceroos will play to win the game, said Arnold, who joked throughout his press conference with 2006 goalkeeper-turned journalist Mark Schwarzer in the room.

"One thing Hiddink did was go for the win," Arnold added. "That's what we are going to do. I've never coached to play for a draw. In 2006, we got one win and a draw, we want to go for it and get two wins.

"It's not often you get to go to a World Cup, and I've been saying this to the boys, enjoy the ride. We've gone through some difficult periods over the last four years, through the pandemic, playing four games out of 20 at home...

"It's all about the belief, the energy in the players. I feel relaxed and ready."

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Last modified on Tuesday, 29 November 2022 09:24
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