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Socceroos offered World Cup carrot

Football West News

Opportunity knocks for a much-changed Caltex Socceroos side but head coach Graham Arnold still expects nothing less than a victory against Korea Republic on Friday night.

Aziz Behich will captain Australia for the first time in the absence of the majority of Arnold’s regular starters at the reportedly sold-out Busan Asiad Stadium at 7pm (WST).

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The 35-cap Behich is one of five players who has reached double figures in appearances in Green and Gold, while the rest of the squad is made up of players who are relative newcomers to the international area.

Despite fielding what will be a brand new Caltex Socceroos starting eleven, Arnold insists he is not solely looking for a positive performance against the Taeguk Warriors.

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“I expect to win and win with a great performance.”

“[It is] all about the result,” Arnold said.

“This is an opportunity for the boys, not only individually, but as a team to show everyone their qualities.

“[Previous coach] Bert van Marwijk, you can see by the World Cup pretty much only trusted 12 or 13 players, where I do believe we’ve got a lot more.

“But it’s not a charity, it’s a national team. You’ve got honour and pride that you’re representing your country.

“This is not a second team. This is a Socceroos team and I expect them to perform great [on Friday] night.”

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Resting the body and mind

Korea Republic are ranked four places ahead of the Caltex Socceroos in the FIFA World Rankings in 37th place.

But Arnold is more than prepared to put faith in the squad he has named, insisting that resting his regulars will help the Caltex Socceroos reap dividends down the track.

With FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers scheduled to begin in September, the Caltex Socceroos coach expects the players sitting out to hit the ground running later in the year.

“I had conversations with all of them. They were grateful that I gave them that opportunity to be rested,” Arnold added.

“When you look back at what they have done over the last four years, they haven’t had an off-season, haven’t had a holiday for three or four years.

“When you look forward to what they’ve got in front of them, they know we’ve got a lot of football in front of us with the World Cup qualifiers.

“For me, it’s not just about the physical side of being rested, it’s also about the mental side because all of them play in good leagues around the world and have different reasons for mental fatigue.

“All of them are very appreciative of me giving them this break so they can have a good holiday and then, after a good holiday, I expect to see them in top shape in September.”

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