The current record breaking performance of the Socceroos has not fazed head coach Graham Arnold who expects a win against Japan.
The Socceroos are currently on a history breaking streak. The win against Oman last week marked the eleventh consecutive World Cup Qualifying win for the Australians. This became a historic record of consecutive WCQ wins in world football, beating a previous record jointly held by Mexico, Spain and Germany.
Arnold's Australia-Japan statements:
- Australia focused on the next game, not historic streaks.
- No Socceroo injures but changes expected in the line up.
- Do not underestimate Asian opponents.
Head Coach Graham Arnold is unfazed by the Socceroos' current history making streak. As it has been in all twenty-one previous matches he has coached for Australia's senior men's national team, for Arnold it is about taking it one game at a time.
The Socceroos' winning steak was accomplished despite the team only playing one their eleven wins in Australia in front of a supportive home crown. Arnold attributes the continued success to the steady approach to each fixture and team morale.
"We take this game like we approach every other game. We go out on the field with high energy, on the front foot and expecting to win every game. All we can control is ourselves," said Arnold ahead of the Socceroos' matchday four of the third round of AFC 2022 World Cup qualifying against Japan.
Japan have been struggling this qualification round. They have only found the back of the net once in their last three matches. Losses to Oman and Saudi Arabia and a single win to China have placed the team in third place in Group B.
Only the top two teams from each third round group are assured direct qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qualification is still possible for each group's third placed team through an AFC Fourth Round of qualifying followed by an intercontinental play-off.
If Japan fails to qualify, it would be their first time missing a World Cup since the nation first qualified in 1998. While they have only played three of the ten matchdays in this round of qualification, the pressure is now mounting for the Japanese.
Arnold does not attribute the Japanese difficulties to poor performances as much as to the quality of opposition in the Asian Football Confederation.
"There is a lot of people that underestimate the quality of the Asian sides. Every game you have to be fully focuses and you have to be fully ready," said the head coach.
"You cannot take any opposite lightly at all. For me that is what I have been driving here with the boys. Do not look beyond. Forget the past quickly. Be ready for the next game.
"Because as I said every team has strengths in Asia, the places that you go, the conditions that you play in and with the travel how quickly you have to play those games you have all different circumstances."
The head coach also expanded on how he expects Japan to play in the upcoming match and what he expects from his Socceroos given the different style which they are expected to face compared to their recent matches:
"I think the other night against Oman built into an erratic match. I think against Japan they are more rigid in the way that they do play.
"Probably won't be any shocks in terms of the system that they play and again or the way that they play.
"We will go into the video again today with the boys and show them the way that they do set up, it is a 4-2-3-1. They have great movement.
"We've had the boys mentally in a great space.
"It is about making sure that we are aware what their (Japan) strengths are and making sure that we nullify those strengths."
Ahead of the game, Arnold confirmed that no players have picked up injuries. The head coach did state though that a few changes may occur in the starting line up to include fresh legs and keep the energy up. The decision on who will be started will be dependent on individual players' recovery after the Oman game and 2:30AM travel time to Japan.
With this Japanese test Arnold will be facing former teammate Hajime Moriyasu, who is now the head coach of the Japanese national team. When informed that reports have come out of Japan about the possibly of Moriyasu getting the sack in the event of a Japanese loss Arnold stated it demonstrated how "fickle coaching is."
However, the negative reports of his old friend do not change his approach about the upcoming game. Right now his focus is not about facing former teammates or historic winning streaks, it is about winning tomorrow. As Arnold bluntly put it:
"I expect 12 straight tomorrow night. Why celebrate or reflect on something that is not over."
The Socceroos match against Japan starts at 9:14 AEDT on 10 Bold and 10 Play on demand.