History repeats: the stats you need to know ahead of Kuwait v Caltex Socceroos
It’s nearly time – your Caltex Socceroos go head to head with Kuwait on Tuesday morning (3.30am AEDT).
Anticipation for the start of the Graham Arnold era has been rising for some time now, but it all finally gets underway on the pitch in Australia’s clash with the Middle Eastern nation.
There’s a raft of interesting facts and figures to dissect before the teams arrive on the field, and here are all the Opta stats you need to know before kick off.
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12 years on, Arnie leads Australia against Kuwait once more
A new era for Australian football is dawning, but this won’t be the first time the Caltex Socceroos take on Kuwait with Graham Arnold in the hot seat.
The 55-year-old led the Caltex Socceroos into battle against Kuwait as acting coach in 2006 following the departure of Guus Hiddink.
Arnold would oversee a 2-0 AFC Asian Cup qualifying match in August as two late goals from Travis Dodd and Sasho Petrovski helped Australia qualify for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
OPPOSITION SCOUT: Everything you need to know about Kuwait
However, the Caltex Socceroos were on the other end of that score line when the two sides met again in September, with Bader Al-Mutawa and Khalaf Al Mutairi doing the damage for Kuwait.
The veteran forward is now 33 years old, but three-time Asian Footballer of the Year Al-Mutawa will still likely be the central goal scoring threat for Kuwait tomorrow morning.
The springboard for 2015 AFC Asian Cup success
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Arnold and Australia’s meeting with Kuwait 12 years ago.
Australia have since fought their way to two AFC Asian Cup Finals, winning in 2015, and the result that set the tone for that title win might well have been the Caltex Socceroos opening 4-1 victory over Kuwait in Melbourne.
The groundwork for that eventual triumph was formed in that memorable display, which was led by Massimo Luongo on his first international appearance on home soil.
Luongo laid on an equaliser for Tim Cahill then nudged the team into the lead himself before half time, with a Mile Jedinak penalty and a stoppage-time James Troisi effort sealing the win.
The Caltex Socceroos will be looking for a similar knock on effect against Kuwait tomorrow morning.
Australia's mixed results on Asian soil
The impact of that resounding triumph three years ago may just echo in the players’ heads when the two teams walk out, but Kuwait have reason to enter the match confident of spoiling the party.
Romeo Jozak’s side have drawn two and won two of their last four fixtures, including a 1-0 win over the Caltex Socceroos' November opponents Lebanon last Friday.
They might also be buoyed by Australia’s recent record on Asian soil. The team have only claimed one victory in their last six attempts away to an Asian neighbour – a 1-0 win away against the United Arab Emirates in 2016.
All up, the Caltex Socceroos have drawn four and lost one of their last six away matches on Asian soil, and in four of those matches they conceded the last goal.