Changes imminent as Socceroos’ hopes go on the line
BANGKOK: Australia coach Graham Arnold has hinted at wholesale changes ahead of the Socceroos’ tournament-defining match up against co-hosts Thailand at the Rajamangala National Stadium next Monday.
BANGKOK: Australia coach Graham Arnold has hinted at wholesale changes ahead of the Socceroos- tournament-defining match up against co-hosts Thailand at the Rajamangala National Stadium next Monday.
Arnold cast a forlorn figure at the post-match press conference following his side-s 3-1 capitulation at the hands of Iraq - a result that leaves Australia-s chances of progression to the final eight hanging by a thread.
Arnold, visibly irate at the final whistle, didn't mince his words at his displeasure with the sides performance.
“I-m very disappointed, there were three individual mistakes that cost us the game,” was Arnold-s blunt assessment after the match.
“We worked hard to get back to 1-1, we had all the play, Iraq looked like they were starting to tire and then two individual mistakes killed us.”
Brett Holman-s introduction at the expense of Mile Sterjovski was Arnold-s only starting eleven swap against Iraq, with the Dutch based flyer one of only two starting players to have not featured regularly throughout Australia-s 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign.
Led by the likes of Lucas Neill, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell, each of whom are virtual celebrities in Thailand and very much the pin-up players of these championships, Australia-s all-star cast has so far failed to make an impression at their first Asian Cup attempt.
Several seasoned Socceroos, such as John Aloisi, Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson, as well as 2006 FIFA World Cup squad members Michael Beauchamp, Mile Sterjovski and Mark Milligan, have been used sparingly or not at all by Arnold thus far in Thailand.
Ahead of Australia-s make or break encounter on Monday and on the back of two unflattering performances, several of the aforementioned looked set to be given their chance to rescue the Socceroos- fading Asian Cup hopes.
“The players had another opportunity today and they were poor, we still have one opportunity left where we have to beat Thailand and our head-to-head record will get us through,” said Arnold.
“The players have got their heads down, they-re hurting badly and they-ll take a look at themselves in the mirror.
“We-ve got players on the bench that are desperate to get out there and play, so I-ll have a look at that over the next 24 hours.”
Australia-s Asian Cup hopes go on the line against co-hosts Thailand this coming Monday, 16 July. Kick off at the Rajamangala Stadium for Australia-s final Group A match is at 10.35pm AEST.
By virtue of the Asian Cup-s rules regarding the final placement of group teams, Australia can still book their place in the quarter finals should they defeat Thailand on Monday.
Should teams finish the group stage on equal points, the head-to-head record between the teams concerned is used to determine the group standings, rather than the traditional goal difference method.
As such, should Iraq account for or draw with Oman, and Australia are to triumph over Thailand, the Socceroos will snatch a berth in the knock out stages by way of their superior head-to-head record against the hosts.
Fox Sports will feature live and exclusive coverage of the match from 10.30pm AEST. Click here for the entire Fox Sports broadcast schedule.