05/03/2024

Football Australia Match Announcement Socceroos v Lebanon at Commbank Stadium (Photo by Damian Briggs/Football Australia)

Head coach Graham Arnold is excited to unite the Socceroos from around the world, as they look to face Lebanon in front of a home crowd in New South Wales.

When fronting the media ahead of the fixture, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold explained how the home crowd will provide ‘a massive lift’ to his side.

“Our players are scattered across the world when playing for their clubs, the excitement they have to come together as a group and represent the nation has been a cornerstone of our success,” Arnold said.

“The opportunity to play in front of home fans and feel the energy they bring is so valuable for us, it provides a massive lift, not just in those individual moments but for the many that follow in our qualification journey.

“For the likes of Maty Ryan, Mitch Duke, Keanu Baccus and others from New South Wales, it’s important they enjoy the chance to wear the Australian jersey in their hometown in front of friends and family.

“It doesn’t matter how many times it comes about, playing in front of those who have helped you on your journey through football is such a rewarding and humbling experience, and celebrating that is an integral part of the culture we’ve built within this squad.”

Football Australia CEO James Johnson expressed his excitement to host the Socceroos in front of a Parramatta crowd.

“This event not only signifies the resumption of our journey towards the FIFA World Cup, but also reflects the vibrant football culture in New South Wales, thanks to the region’s high grassroots participation rates,” Johnson said.

“We look forward to delivering an exceptional experience for players and fans alike.”

Arnold raised concerns over players missing up to eight European club games for those competing in the Asian Cup.

“The players are getting pressure from their clubs back in Europe,” he said.

“[The AFC] should really look at when they do play the Asian Cup in January because it suits the Middle East nations but I can image (Hajime) Moriyasu in Japan and (Jürgen) Klinsmann in South Korea is probably having the same issues we’re having with clubs at the moment.”

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Arnold has shifted his focus from the Asian Cup to the squad competing in March ahead of Olympic qualifiers in April.

The squad of 23 will be selected in three weeks, giving no one a second chance. Brandon Borrello and Ryan Strain will be out of contention with injuries, giving other players a chance in their positions.

“The time of giving chances is pretty much over, that’s what the last seven months have been all about,” Arnold said.

“Now it’s serious business, it’s serious work, best 23 players available.”

The Subway Socceroos will face Lebanon at CommBank Stadium in Sydney on Thursday, 21 March 2024 (8.00pm AEDT).

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