Socceroos boss Graham Arnold believes the future of football in Australia is in good hands, pointing to the group of exceptional young talent and European calibre players in the squad that could reach the pinnacle of the sport.
The Socceroos fell to defeat against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions outfit last Saturday, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the game, as the side put in a performance that made the nation proud.
Of the 17 players who appeared for Australia in the match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday morning, ten were aged 25 years or younger, with many of the players making up the squad being contracted to various European clubs.
Speaking to the media, Australia’s coach Graham Arnold stated he believes his Australian side is often overlooked and underestimated by the Football world, citing a group of exceptional young talent and European calibre players should see Australia gain success in coming years:
“I think the boys showed the other night that maybe we get underestimated by certain parts of media and even the world, we’ve got some good young kids coming through that are starting their careers,” Arnold expressed.
“These kids could end up in the top Premier League, at the end of the day, a lot of these players of the ‘Golden Generation’ didn’t get into the Premier League until they were 25 or 26.”
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Despite his side’s narrow defeat against England a few days ago, Arnold believes they proved to the world that they can compete at the highest level.
“I think we showed that we can compete, and when I say compete, it’s my belief in what the boys can bring, we work extremely hard as a unit, and we play for the nation.
“We make sure that we give everything we’ve got and leave everything on the field, and that’s all I demand.”
Arnold applauded his team’s work rate and effort in the nation’s first game at the iconic Wembley Stadium, a result of a new mentality instilled into the camp over recent years.
“I thought the boys did exceptionally well, the effort rate and the work rate were fantastic,” Arnold said.
“The mentality that we’ve been driving now for a long time is that whoever we’re playing against, we’re in their faces, trying to take away their strengths.
“When you play against those top nations, it’s a technical aspect that’s probably better than us, and we work so hard to take that away from them, but at the end of the day I wasn’t happy with the result.”
Although the performance was positive against an incredibly tough opponent, the Socceroos manager was left disappointed by the result, after his side failed to capitalise on good chances at goal.
“My expectations for the boys is obviously to win games, we had the chance to win that game,” he said.
“Like any other game, if you don’t win it, but you had the chances, then you’re disappointed, and that’s how I felt.”
The Socceroos turn their attention now to their match against New Zealand on Wednesday morning.
According to Arnold, there will be significant changes to the squad, with this being the last opportunity the coach will get to have a look at some of the players he’s called up during this international break.
“You’ll see some changes, it’s my last chance to have a look at some of the players that I’ve brought in over time,” he said.
“The thing is now, I’m getting headaches selecting a team, where probably for three or four years I didn’t have that, because after I took over after Russia (2018 World Cup), it was an old squad, I had to regenerate the squad at that time.
“I think this is only my tenth friendly, out of almost forty-two games that I’ve been able to test players and give them opportunities.
“Tomorrow night is the last one, it’s about the performance tomorrow night, winning the game, and for a certain amount of players to show me what they’ve got, moving ahead for the World Cup qualifiers.”
Graham Arnold and the Socceroos take on New Zealand at the Gtech Community Stadium, with kick-off commencing at 5:15 AM Australian Central Daylight Time.