Following a convincing victory over Oman last week, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes the side can follow up with another impressive performance over Japan tomorrow night in their World Cup qualifying clash.
The Socceroos are coming up against their biggest Asian rival Japan, but Arnold says that he won’t be looking too much into their historic rivalry heading into tomorrow’s match.
“What I can control is our boys and what we can do, that’s all I’m focusing on,” he told media on Monday.
“The opposition we always respect, we analyse them, we present that to the players, but I’ve said this many times my focus is mainly 80 percent on ourselves and I expect a much-improved performance from the other night against Oman.
“I know the players – every individual has so many more one-percenters to give and I expect that tomorrow night that there’ll be as I said an even greater performance than against Oman.”
Currently, in good form, the Socceroos have gone the past 11 matches and Arnold is anticipating the streak will continue despite coming up against an opposition the side haven’t beaten since 2009.
“No [I haven’t reflected on our current form] because I expect 12 straight [unbeaten games] tomorrow night, so why celebrate or reflect on something that’s not over,” he said.
“So [I’m taking it] one step at a time, but you know obviously it’s a great achievement and one I’ll reflect on whenever that this, when I leave this job I’ll reflect back on it as something special.”
More Football News
Having played with a lot of freedom in their opening three matches, Arnold believes that his side will be coming up against a more organised opposition tomorrow night.
“I think against Japan, they are more rigid in the way that they do play, probably won’t be any shocks in terms of the system that they play or the way that they play,” he said.
“We’ll go through the video again today with the boys and show them the way that they [Japan] do set up, it’s a 4-3-2-1, they’ve got good movement, but we’ve got the boys mentally in a good space, as we’ve said before it’s about ensuring we’re aware what their strengths are and making sure we nullify those strengths.”
Though traditionally one of the strongest nations in Asia, Japan has struggled in the qualifying rounds winning just one of their opening three games.
But Arnold says he’s not surprised by Japan’s recent form slump, believing all the sides in the group have quality players and warned his players not to get too far ahead of themselves.
“I think there’s a lot of people that underestimate the quality of the Asian sides, and a lot of games you have to be fully focused and fully ready,” he said.
“You can’t take any opposition lightly at all, and for me, that’s what I’ve been driving here with the boys that it’s one game at a time, don’t look beyond, forget the past quickly and be ready for the next game.”
Arnold also noted that he will be making slight changes to the line-up and, rotating the squad to give some of his players a rest after the Oman game.
“There will be a couple of fresh leg changes for this game,” he said.
“So we’ve got to keep that energy up, and the boys who recovered really well that played that other night will play, the ones who are a little bit less [recovered] then we’ll probably make some fresh leg changes,” he said
Midfielder Aaron Mooy could be expected to start having come off the bench in the opening three games.
Despite a lack of minutes at club level, Arnold says Mooy’s fitness levels and high and should be able to have an impact in the upcoming qualifying matches.
“Aaron is in top shape, before this camp Andrew Clarke [performance coordinator] went across to Edinburgh where Aaron is and worked with him for 10 days before he came across,” he said.
“He’s in top shape and ready to go, and I think with Aaron if there’s one thing about him is adrenaline will kick in and it won’t matter that he hasn’t played many match minutes in a while.
“His experience is enormous and you’ve seen when he came on in the three games, he’s just taken control of the game and run the game out for us”
The Socceroos play Japan on Tuesday at 9:14 pm AEDT, Saitama Stadium
Subscribe to our newsletter!