Graham Arnold has defiantly declared Australia will not be playing for a draw after concerns were raised over how that approach to the game against Denmark could backfire.
Former Socceroo Robbie Slater warned on the Fox Football Podcast that it was “dangerous” if Australia went out and played for the draw, adding” “that’d be the worst thing to do”.
Bruce Djite, another ex-Socceroo, had a similar message on ABC’s Offsiders last Sunday, declaring Australia would be “at real peril” if it did not go out with the full intention of winning.
Naturally, Arnold was asked about that possibility by media on Tuesday and had a clear message.
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“It’s no different to every other game,” he said.
“I have never coached to draw in my life so we’re not going to do that. Again, it’s about going out and being on the front foot like we were for 30 minutes against France and I feel for 60 minutes against Tunisia [we did that].
“That is the message I have been driving to the boys, with the review yesterday, step by step, and I don’t know how people are taking me saying France was a friendly but you know, that’s what I mean, is the improvement, and 30 minutes against France was great, so 30 per cent to 60 per cent against Tunisia, now it’s time for 90 per cent or 100 per cent against Denmark, and making sure we remove any sloppy mistakes.”
Arnold said that Nathaniel Atkinson “should be back” after missing the Tunisia game with an ankle injury, adding that everyone is “recovering well and in good spirits”.
“Everyone is on the sheet for selection,” he said.
There won’t be any radical changes to the line-up though, with Arnold warning that switching things up too much comes with plenty of risks.
“The more you change too much, the more confusion you put in the brain – and when people are confused, what do they do? The energy goes away and you make mistakes,” he said.
“We’ve been doing something for four and a half years. The players know exactly what to do, and what my expectations are. I don’t think by changing the wheel in one day is going to do anything tactically great, but what it will be doing is putting confusion in players brains and once you do that then you’re not going to get the best out of them.”
The same goes for putting much thought into what Denmark will be doing, with Arnold clear that the Socceroos need to put the majority of their energy and focus into their own game.
“If we spend too much time, and we don’t have much time, but if we spend a day or two just focusing on Denmark then we’re doing the wrong thing in my opinion,” he said.
“It’s more about getting ourselves ready mentally and tactically, giving the right messages to the players. That is having that belief in what we do. Lifting the energy, which is great. The boys are in great spirits.
“And the focus, that is ourselves… we can’t control what they do. We can help control, but we can’t control everything. What we can do is get ourselves ready.”
‘KILLING US’: ARNIE’S PLEA OVER SOCIAL MEDIA ‘SHITE’
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has emphatically urged his players to stay away from “all that shite” on social media, warning getting swept up in the hype could derail Australia’s World Cup campaign.
In a candid interview with Australian media in Doha, Arnold vented his frustration at the impact of social media on modern day athletes, suggesting it played a part in the Olyroos failing to make it out of their group at Tokyo 2020 after upsetting Argentina in their opening game.
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Australia’s 1-0 win over Tunisia has raised excitement this Socceroos team can just be the second to make the knockout stage, with a draw against world No.10 Denmark on Thursday morning (2am AEDT) likely to be enough to go through.
“That’s why I had the huddle straight after the game because if there’s one thing I learnt at the Olympics, it was after a big win against Argentina, there was too much celebration,” Arnold said.
“And that celebration, I’m sorry, is social media. They get on that until four or five in the morning, watch all the great comments and enjoy all that shite if I can say that …. it affects players.
“It affects their sleep patterns so if you’re up to five in the morning looking at that, and looking at the good comments and people backing you, the same people are doing it back the day after and it’s killing us, just get rid of it and don’t look at it.”
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Arnold himself has been subject of plenty of vitriol online in a turbulent four-year tenure as national coach.
“It’s something that I have never looked at yet, I don’t do it … you might not believe me, that I don’t read anything, but I know the effect it can have on people and it does have a huge effect on celebrities, sports stars, or whatever,” Arnold said.
“ ….I am really glad I played in the days when there was no mobiles telephones and no journos giving you ratings out of 10 and things like that.
”It was a long time ago but it’s a big thing and I think players these days are so mentally strong because of that but at the end of the day I have to get my wife off social media, I have to get my kids off social media, because it nearly kills them in this time and environment, but that’s the way it is now.”
Arnold has stressed to his players the importance of sleep, recovery and refocusing on the clash with Denmark.
Having revealed he had plenty of sleepless nights before the Tunisia match, Arnold isn’t feeling any more at peace after a victory.
“(I’m sleeping) worse,” Arnold said. “Because I just want so much more.
“I can’t explain it, because it’s such a strong passion I have for Australian football.
“To see the celebrations… I got sent a few videos from friends, but also random people, of pubs and places I’d never heard of with people going crazy.
“That’s what I’m here for, to put smiles on people’s faces. And we’ve got a job to do – and part of that job is getting the players ready.”