Aussie Focus

Arnold 'grateful' for World Cup play-offs ahead of Qatar homecoming

Graham Arnold remains grateful his Socceroos have another chance to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and believes their “second home” of Qatar could give them an advantage in the play-offs.

Graham Arnold (R) congratulates Mitch Duke after a Socceroos match

Graham Arnold (R) congratulates Mitch Duke after a Socceroos match

WATCH every game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup LIVE, FREE and EXCLUSIVE on SBS.

For all the latest action and updates from the diverse range of SBS Sports, follow us on and .

The Socceroos failed to secure automatic qualification after finishing third behind Japan and Saudi Arabia in Group B, having surrendered top spot amid one win from their final seven matches.

Advertisement
Such a horror-run of form only exacerbated calls for Arnold’s dismissal, though the 58-year-old will instead see out the remainder of the campaign after receiving a vote of confidence from Football Australia.

Only two play-off games separate Arnold from redemption, and the two-time A-League championship-winning coach admitted he was “grateful” to guide his side to the next phase.

“It’s been a tough few years,” Arnold told SBS Sport at the World Cup draw in Doha.

“We’re in a play-off position and I’m actually quite grateful we’re in that position because we had a lot of challenges through the pandemic.

“We played four games out of 18 at home, the rest were away from home and we lost a lot of players due to international travel during the pandemic that restricted our number of players.”


Picking from a complete talent pool could have made the difference, according to Arnold, who must now steer the Socceroos through the perilous play-offs for the second consecutive World Cup qualifying campaign.

With COVID-19 still affecting international football, FIFA have abandoned their traditional two-legged format for intercontinental ties, with all remaining nations set to meet in Qatar for a set of one-off fixtures.

It’s a welcome change for Arnold and Australia, who have had to play many of their home matches abroad since 2019, including in Doha, where they will meet the United Arab Emirates in the AFC play-off on June 7.

“Because we couldn’t play in Australia, we had to play some home games in Qatar, so we’ve had that experience of being in Qatar during the qualifiers but also playing in the air-conditioned stadiums,” Arnold explained.

“We’ve got the advantage; this is like a second home for us so it’s all about being positive and looking forward.

“The players know very well what’s at hand and what’s important is that they’re working hard at their clubs, getting game time, and coming into camp fit and healthy.”

Should the Socceroos prevail over their Asian rivals, a date with Peru awaits in Al Rayyan the following week, where the winner will join a World Cup group containing defending champions France, Denmark, and Tunisia.


SHARE
Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
3 min read
Published 28 April 2022 at 4:11pm
By SBS Sport
Source: SBS