Arnold backs Roos’ attack to click in Indonesia clash

Anna Harrington |

Mitch Duke may be a doubt, but Australia’s strikers are being backed to fire at the Asian Cup.
Mitch Duke may be a doubt, but Australia’s strikers are being backed to fire at the Asian Cup.

Winger Craig Goodwin is adamant he is fit to return from injury to help the Socceroos find their goalscoring form against Indonesia and book their ticket to the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Australia will enter Sunday’s round-of-16 clash at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium as top of Group B but off the back of scratchy form.

The Socceroos scored just four goals in three group games as they struggled to break down packed defences.

Goodwin missed the 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan as a precaution with a knee knock but insisted he was ready to go.

Suresh Singh Wangjam and Graig Goodwin.
Graig Goodwin makes a tackle against India in the Asian Cup group stage for the Socceroos. (AP PHOTO)

“I’m training fully today. This is obviously one where we took the decision to rest it to be OK for obviously this stage of the tournament,” Goodwin said at the pre-match press conference.

“But it’s in a good way. I’m training fully and ready to go and hopefully whether I’m from a starting position or on the bench I’ll be able to play and make an impact on this match.”

Coach Graham Arnold confirmed Mitch Duke (hamstring) will also train fully and is available for selection, but the Socceroos want to ensure he is fully “ready to go”.

Ahead of Arnold’s 50th match at the helm since taking the reins full-time in 2018, he was adamant his charges were “just about to click”.

“The stats have shown that we’ve spent more minutes in the opponent’s half than anyone and we have more penalty-box entries and more touches in the penalty box,” Arnold told AAP.

“I’ve just sat and watched Japan and South Korea, with Premier League players, struggle against packed defences.

“It’s just about getting combinations and the connections right and also the confidence.

“It’s all about getting players in the box, and I feel that all the statistics and the data show that we’re getting a lot of players in the box and we’re getting those half-chances, which is good.

“But at the end of the day, the patterns and everything are going well – it’s just the end product of the cross or the shot or the cutback or the finish.”

Graham Arnold.
Graham Arnold will celebrate his 50th match at the helm of the Socceroos against Indonesia. (AP PHOTO)

If Australia beat world No.146 Indonesia, they will face either Saudi Arabia or South Korea.

At his pre-match press conference, Arnold reminded his players of the do-or-die nature of the knockouts.

“It could be the last hurrah for everyone – if you know what I mean,” he said.

“Players-wise, there’s no guarantees with national team football for anybody … you treat every game as if it’s your last game.”

Arnold’s current tenure has included 32 wins, 10 draws and seven losses and his expectations remain high in Doha.

“The Asian Cup is important for me. What’s a little bit disappointing at times is it’s not respected that way,” he said.

“For me, it’s the Asian Euros. It’s such an important tournament for the development and growth of the game, but also for the region of Asia.

“It’s a massive tournament and, of course, my expectations and my goals are to come here to win it, otherwise I wouldn’t bother being here – I’d rather stay home.

“That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’ve had one day off in three weeks.

“We’re here to do the nation proud, and with the expectations and the goal to win it.”