After a strong result for Oman against Japan last month, Socceroos boss Graham Arnold is wary of Friday’s opponents, but insists his team are ready to match their energy.
The Socceroos come into the game in fine form, currently on a 10 game winning streak, but Arnold knows he faces a strong team that have been defensively resilient.
“All I’m thinking about his getting three points against Oman and putting our best side out,” Arnold told journalists at the Socceroos’ pre-match press conference.
“We respect every opposition but my expectations are around our performance.
“It’s my belief that we should improve every time we get together and on our last camp we did very well but I do expect an improvement on those performances.
“Oman have got great energy, they work hard and it’s important that we match that.
“I do expect with the energy our boys have brought in here that we will be ready for that.”
Despite Friday’s match technically being a home game, the Socceroos will once again be playing in Qatar due to the Covid-19 travel and quarantine restrictions back in Australia.
However Arnold believes his side are now well-accustomed to the scenario in the Middle East.
“It’s a place now that we’re very familiar with,” said Arnold.
“The hotel and training field is great, and we’ll see the stadium for the first time – although we’ve already played there on previous occasions – for training tomorrow.
“We’re just grateful for the Qatari football association for hosting us here, and all the boys are happy and ready.”
Arnold’s plans have been slightly disrupted by the withdrawal of Milos Degenek from the squad after a positive Covid-19 test, though he’s grateful to have a player of Bailey Wright’s calibre ready to step up in place of the Crvena Zvezda defender.
“First and foremost, the most important thing is that Milos is okay and that he’s got no symptoms,” continued Arnold.
“I spoke to him and he feels down because he was so excited to come into camp.
“But we pick a squad of 23 players and we have a good bit of depth now that allows us to bring in a great player like Bailey Wright.
“It shows how good our depth is at centre back that we can call on a player of his quality.”
Following the Socceroos’ narrow 1-0 win against Vietnam last month, there was a debate over the value of a result compared to the performance, but Arnold got a message from a Socceroos legend telling him it was one of the team’s best ever wins
“I did get sent an article by a very experienced Socceroo, Mark Schwarzer, that said it was one of the greatest results ever.
“Unless you’ve been to those countries and you know how difficult the circumstances are, sometimes those conditions can affect performance.
“Therefore for me it’s result over performance sometimes, it’s about getting that right result.
“It’s usually 50-50, I look at getting the right performance and I always expect a great performance.”
Finally, Arnold has been impressed by Tom Rogic’s form under former Socceroos’ boss Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, ahead of what would be his 50th appearance for the national team if he plays against Oman.
“Tom is doing very well, I had a good chat with him last night and he’s very happy that everything’s going well for him,” said Arnold.
“Tom’s a kid where if his personal life his going well then his professional life is going well and vice versa, so it’s great to see.
“He looks extremely fit and has had a lot of minutes, and working under Ange and he’s very happy.”
The Socceroos will kick off against Oman on Friday morning at 5.30am AEST, and following that they will face one of Asia’s strongest sides in Japan on Tuesday, October 12.