Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has brazenly admitted playing mind games with China ahead of their World Cup qualifier.

Travel and quarantine restrictions ruled out the Socceroos playing the qualifier in Australia as scheduled.

So Arnold took it to Qatar for two reasons: one, it's a distance from China and, two, Australia feels comfortable in Doha.

"For me, the most important thing was that we didn't play in east Asia," Arnold said ahead of the fixture which kicks off at 0400 AEST on Friday.

"It was more about taking China away from east Asia and bringing them over this way where, I have to be honest, we feel comfortable here.

"We played Kuwait here and we had the Asian Cup here in the UAE, we have played a big number of games here since I have been in charge.

"So we feel quite comfortable here in the Middle East."

The fixture at the air-conditioned Khalifa International Stadium - a venue for next year's World Cup - marks the return of linchpin Aaron Mooy to the Socceroos squad.

Mooy missed the four games last June in Kuwait after the death of his brother Alex.

"Everyone has challenges in life and Aaron, we have obviously been supporting him the whole way through," Arnold said.

"He's here, he's loving it, he has got a smile on his face every day to be back around his mates."

Mooy is among 27 players in an increased squad to also play Vietnam in Hanoi next Tuesday.

"Part of the reason I brought an extended squad was because there were a number of players that I hadn't seen this year because they hadn't played much football," Arnold said.

"But they all look in great shape.

"I always encourage them to leave their club side of things away from here - as soon as they walk into camp here it's a new environment, it's an environment of mateship."

The world No.35 Socceroos are on an eight-game winning streak but Arnold is wary of the Chinese, ranked 71st.

"They are well organised, they are hard working, and we have to match that hard work on the pitch," Arnold said.

"They play quite long, quite direct, and they play for the second ball and we have got to be ready for that."