Heading in to January’s Asian Cup, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold expects Australia to defend and retain their 2015 title.
Australia may be reigning Asian champions but the Socceroos now face a bigger challenge than when they lifted the title four years ago under Ange Postecoglou.
While the victory was achieved on home soil, this time the tournament is being hosted by the UAE and Australia's main Asian rivals will be confident of success after impressive performances in Russia.
The Socceroos struggled to qualiy for the 2018 World Cup and once there failed to win a game but it was a different story for Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Not only did they all qualify directly, each team won matches in Russia with Japan qualifying for the round of 16.
But the Socceroos head coach is still confident that Australia can hold onto their Asian crown.
“I expect us to go there with the mentality to win every game,” Arnold said after naming his 23-player squad for next Saturday's friendly against Korea Republic in Brisbane.
“Four years ago we won the Asian Cup on home soil and it was a great achievement by the players.
“But our biggest opponent will be those four that qualified for the World Cup ahead of us, and those four that went to the World Cup and won games.
“Obviously you can’t rule out the UAE as the home nation.
“So it’s going to be a big challenge but it’s one that I am excited about and I believe we will defend our title, defend our championship and do a great job.”
The Socceroos lead up to the Asian Cup will have featured just three friendly games but Arnold was not concerned about any lack of preparation.
“From the outside, maybe people will look at the 23 days (the Socceroos have spent in training) but at the end of the day I have great belief in this group of players,” he said.
“You can’t judge it in the same way as Bert van Marwijk because he had the same time in charge but the players were all new to him.
“I’ve had a great connection with the players over a long, long time, over many years in the A-League.
“I’ve coached a lot of the players personally. I coached against those players in the A-League and worked with the players as a group.
“I’m so excited about what is in front of us, not just the Asian Cup and beyond and I’m sure with these players with the new style that we want to play and they will come through well.”
Arnold likened the new Socceroos' style to the way some of the biggest club teams in world football line up on the field tactically.
“If I can replicate, and make it easier, it’s about like how Liverpool and Paris St Germain play with three number nines," he said.
“Three players with pace and that are good with a 1 v 1 action, and players that can make a difference.
“The full backs will be playing up higher and giving width and at the end of the day, it’s a modern day system about getting numbers in the right areas to score goals.”