Arnold expecting Caltex Socceroos of 2019 to raise game
Graham Arnold expects his new-look Caltex Socceroos to raise the level when their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ campaign commences in just over a weeks’ time.
The Caltex Socceroos enter the tournament as defending Champions, however with 15 players set to participate in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time few comparisons can be made between the team that won the title on home soil in 2015, and the squad set to represent the green and gold on Asia’s premier stage in the United Arab Emirates.
“We had a good chat yesterday to the players about the last tournament… it was a great memory for the Australian public,” he said.
“[But] that's past, that's history. It’s all about this tournament and where we go from here as a group.
“Some of those players are now leaders of the pack and leaders of those younger boys.
“I expect a lot of players will stand up at this tournament and show their worth.
“They’re all fighting and fit and they’ve done a great job in those last three camps but I do know that they’ve got so much more in them.
“We're functioning only at the moment at about 45 per cent and there’s a lot more to go so it’s up to me to get the best out of those players and raise the level even more.”
Australia’s title defence starts against Jordan on Sunday, 6 January 10.00pm AEDT, but all eyes are now on a friendly clash with Oman this Sunday evening.
Taking place in Dubai, the match looms as one final hit out before the Caltex Socceroos kick off their campaign – and one in which Arnold anticipates the arrival of some tough, last minute selection headaches.
“I can see probably that nearly all the players will get 45-60 minutes and give me headaches for the first game,” he continued.
“We’ve got a great squad here with a lot of young players and a lot of energy and when you have that it makes the older players lift their game as well.
“I have 100 per cent belief and trust in whoever I put out on the pitch will do a great job for us,” he said.