Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Socceroos to instil fear in Asian World Cup rivals

Australia coach Graham Arnold has targeted success at the Asian Cup as the perfect way to establish a psychological advantage over his country’s World Cup rivals. Arnold believes Australia are firm favourites to win the Asian Cup, to be held jointly in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam next July, and he wants to use the tournament to send a warning to the teams his side will be fighting against for a place at the 2010 World Cup.

“We will be going there to win the Asian Cup. We are the number one nation in Asia,” said Arnold as reported by AFP. “It is a great chance to put some fear into the other Asian countries ahead of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. It will be a whole new experience going to places like Indonesia and Thailand. We haven’t played there before so it will be a good test. And if we can win it, we will get to go to the Confederations Cup. We’ve been in that tournament before and enjoyed it so we want to go back.”

Arnold is keen to include most of his star players for the three-week tournament even though it comes at the end of a long season for the majority of Australia’s Europe-based squad. “I’ve convinced a few of the guys who are over 30 to carry on until after the Asian Cup,” Arnold added. “We will go there with a strong squad. Guys have always put their country first ahead of their clubs and I’m sure that will be the same again in Asia.”

Australia’s successful World Cup campaign in Germany has given the Socceroos a much-increased profile and Arnold knows how vital it is to build on that new-found respect by winning the Asian Cup. He said: “I think the whole world was amazed at our technique and fitness at the World Cup. We proved we can compete against top sides.”

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