Socceroos players haven't learnt to hurt: Arnie

Socceroos players haven't learnt to hurt: Arnie

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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says Australian football's lack of jeopardy has created a generation of players who don't hurt when they lose.

Under-siege Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes a lack of jeopardy in Australian football is developing a generation of players who simply don't hurt when they lose.

Australia - Saudie Arabia

  • The Socceroos face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Jeddah.
  • Their last AFC third round World Cup qualification match is a dead duck after the failure to qualify automatically for this year's tournament.
  • Graham Arnold has called up an inexperienced squad for the match.

More Socceroos news can be found on FTBL. 

Arnold will have an inexperienced squad featuring several youngsters for Tuesday's (Wednesday AM AEDT) World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Jeddah.

The match is a dead rubber with the Saudis having already qualified for this year's World Cup in Qatar while Australia's 2-0 loss to Japan in Sydney last week has confirmed they'll have to negotiate a treacherous play-off route to reach a fifth-straight finals.

The game could be Arnold's last at the helm with speculation rife Football Australia is contemplating axing the 58-year-old after a disappointing end to the third stage of qualifying, which has included draws against Oman and China and two losses to Japan.

Arnold, however, believes regardless of who is in charge for the playoffs in June, there are wider issues for Australian football that have to be addressed to ensure players are prepared to perform on the international stage.

"If you talk to the players, if you spoke to Jimmy Jeggo and Nathaniel Atkinson and these guys, they will even tell you straight away that the hunger, the commitment, in these competitions they've gone to overseas is every weekend," Arnold said.

"A lot of our juniors get brought up in a system of no relegation at junior level and so they don't learn to hurt when they lose.

"These players now are plying their trades overseas, they're in a dog-eat-dog world of having to win.

"We've talked about this for 15 years, about the system of football in Australia.

"I tried my best during COVID to get a lot of that fixed but it's out of my hands ... at the end of the day they're decisions that I can't make."

With experienced performers Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Milos Degenek absent from the clash with the Green Falcons, Arnold is challenging those who will play to use the game as a chance to prove their worth.

Scottish-based Atkinson is poised to make his Socceroos debut with Arnold indicating the ex-Melbourne City player will start while Denis Genreau and Nicholas D'Agostino are among those who are in the mix to make the first XI.

"I've been around the national team now for 40 years and I've never known a game to be a dead rubber," Arnold said.

"It's more about going up against a team that's qualified for a World Cup and showing your worth.

"Giving an opportunity for these players to step up and for them to push for a position in the play-off squad."

PLUS...

'Do you have more to offer?' the question Milligan wants FA to ask Arnold

Ex-Australia skipper Mark Milligan believes Football Australia should bluntly ask Graham Arnold whether he can “get any more” out of his beleaguered Socceroos, amid widespread speculation the coach is on the brink of being axed.

PLUS...

'He's in a very difficult position': FA support for Arnold melting away

After receiving the backing of Football Australia on the eve of the Socceroos' soul-crushing World Cup loss to Japan, an abrupt shift in sentiment has left coach Graham Arnold hanging on by his finger nails.

More Socceroos news can be found on their website. 

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