Focus shifts to home games in November after Kuwait win
With the first test passed with flying colours, Graham Arnold’s Caltex Socceroos will swiftly turn their focus to November’s home friendlies against Korea Republic and Lebanon.
Arnold’s tenure got off to a dream start on Tuesday morning (AEDT) with his side strolling to a 4-0 win over Kuwait in the Middle East.
The Caltex Socceroos made a big statement against Kuwait and there was a lot to like about the way the Australians went about their business.
Tom Rogic’s dominant display was something to behold, while second-half cameos from Daniel Arzani and Awer Mabil left fans salivating for what’s to come from this team.
While the final score was 4-0 – with an own goal and further strikes from Apostolos Giannou, Rogic and Mabil – the truth is it could have been even more emphatic.
“We still need the icing in the cake which is the finishing,” Arnold said post-game.
“The execution will come. The performance was promising but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
And you get the sense this Caltex Socceroos squad will get a far greater test on home soil in November.
Next up is Korea Republic on Saturday 17 November, the recent Asian Games gold medallists and the team we beat in extra-time to win the AFC Asian Cup in 2015.
With the likes of Son Heung-min, Hee Chan-Hwang and Lee Seung-woo – also known as the ‘Korean Messi’ – this is a side with serious firepower.
But from what we’ve seen of Arnold’s reign so far, this is an Australia team that will attack.
And you can be sure they’ll look to do just that and further improve on his attacking principles in front of the home fans.
The Koreans are unbeaten since their win over then-World Champions Germany at the FIFA World Cup in June, and beat South American heavyweights Uruguay 2-1 in a friendly in Seoul last week.
That’s some pretty impressive form.
And like the Caltex Socceroos, they’ll head to the UAE in January with designs on winning the AFC Asian Cup.
The clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane – while a friendly – could give either side a strong psychological boost for what awaits early in 2019.
Three days later, the Caltex Socceroos head to Sydney to face Lebanon in what will also be Tim Cahill’s farewell match for the Caltex Socceroos.
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While it will be a celebratory atmosphere inside ANZ Stadium, it’s an important fixture for a couple of reasons.
In what is likely to be the team’s last match before the squad is announced for January’s AFC Asian Cup, it will be one final opportunity for Arnold to get a close-up look at potential starters for that opening group game against Jordan on January 6.
Likewise, it’s a big occasion for the players.
Not only will they want to send Cahill out on the right note, what better way for players to book their spot on the plane to the UAE than by putting on a good show against Lebanon.
And after the impressive debuts from the likes of Mabil and Deng – plus teen sensational Daniel Arzani – there’ll be new stars set to light up both Brisbane and Sydney.
So plenty to look forward to for the Caltex Socceroos over the next month. Bring on November!