Arnold: Why the Socceroos will go all out in Kuwait
The Socceroos may only need a couple of victories to secure passage to the next phase of World Cup Qualifying, but Graham Arnold has his sights firmly set on another four wins from four when Australia return to action in Kuwait.
While a strong start back in 2019 has them sat on top of Group B and in the driving seat for advancement into the third phase of Asian qualifying, Arnold stressed the importance of winning every single match during a hectic schedule that will kick off in 50 days time.
One key reason is the FIFA World Rankings points at stake, which could prove instrumental in determining Australia's opposition in the final group stages of the qualification process.
Recent FIFA rankings placed Australia the fourth-highest Asian nation - something Arnold is hoping to maintain or improve in order to boost the nation's chances of reaching a fifth-straight FIFA World Cup Finals.
Show your support for the Socceroos by downloading our latest custom wallpaper here.
As a result, despite the intense schedule and plans to pick an extended squad of 34 players, Arnold will set out to pick his strongest lineup possible on every occasion.
"I think with an extended squad, yes that (rotation) could be possible," he told Socceroos.com.au.
"But at the end of the day, it's about winning, and with four games in 12 days, there are short turnarounds.
"The other teams only have to play three games, we have to play four in that bubble so it'll be about putting the best available players on the park for those games and making sure that we succeed because it does affect your rankings as a nation and moving into the third phase of World Cup Qualifiers it is important that our rankings are high."
The Socceroos Head Coach believes that the family-like atmosphere the squad has fostered will allow them to pick up exactly where they left off 18 months ago.
"If I reflect back to my experiences over many years playing with the national teams, you always had to give commitment because at the end of the day, when boys live overseas, there has to be excitement to come and see your mates or your family in camp," he said.
"You only get the players for three or four days, and usually for two games over ten days, so the focus is obviously that. But if you make the environment right, you make one built on mateship where the players can't wait to come and be together.
"I'm sure that anyone would rather catch up with mates than strangers. If it's strangers, then it takes much longer to connect where with mates and it feels like, okay, they haven't seen each other for 18 months, but in a family situation, if you don't see your brother for 18 months, and then you connect and within an hour everything's back to normal.
That's what I expect with the boys, I've worked extremely hard to build that environment and that type of culture and everything that I'm seeing and reading from the boys and speaking with them regularly that they're itching to get back into camp, and together."
Most importantly, Arnold is relishing the assurance of the Socceroos' return to action after a long 566-day hiatus.
"Finally, we're back and it's great to be able to not speak about hypotheticals anymore," he reflected.
"It's a situation that we can really plan for. Unfortunately, we pushed hard to have those games here in Australia. And obviously out of the first eight qualifiers it'll end up seven away from home, but it is what it is.
"We're planning ahead and making sure that we get the preparation right, and everybody's ready for those games - it's something that is going to happen, which is fantastic."
For more details on the journey so far and how to watch the Socceroos in Kuwait, check out our ultimate guide to June's World Cup qualifiers.