Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kuwait "scared of us" Australians finally reply

Australia's Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said he wasn't surprised at stinging attacks last week from Kuwaiti-based Arab officials over Australia's entry into the Asian Football Confederation. West Asian Games president, Sheikh Talal al Fahd al Sabah, labelled the AFC's decision "the biggest mistake made against Asian soccer" and called on Australia to be booted out of the confederation after the Asian Cup finals. This echoed an earlier attack on Australia by his brother, Ahmad Al-Fahad Al Sabah, the president of the Olympic Council of Asia. But Arnold said that criticism was to be expected after the Socceroos knocked Kuwait out in the group stages of the Asian Cup.

"We're new into Asia and they are scared of us," Arnold told Guy Hand of The Australian. "Once the World Cup qualifiers kick off and we take an Asian team's position, they'll probably be even more upset. It was the first time in 24 years they've (Kuwait) missed the Asian Cup. Because we were in their group he (the sheikh) wasn't probably too happy."

Arnold disclosed that Australia had dismissed security fears ahead of next year's Asian Cup finals and will base themselves in any of the four countries they are drawn to play group matches - including Indonesia. "Wherever we go, I'm sure security will be good," Arnold said.

The FFA is trying to arrange two friendlies for the Socceroos in Australia in June ahead of the Asian Cup - possibly against Argentina on June 2 in Sydney and June 6 in Melbourne. The team will then go into a 10-day camp prior to departing for Asia. "We need that (a 10-day training camp) before we travel across. It's going to be hot conditions wherever we do go, so we'll have a camp somewhere it's quite warm," Arnold said. "Those based in Europe finish their competitions in May, so they'll have four weeks off (prior to the camp). We'll look at a location where the step up in temperatures won't be so severe."

See also: Australia's 'No Comment" on Arab expulsion call (11 Dec)

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