Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has vowed to field his best team in Australia’s “final” against Jordan on Wednesday morning.
Arnold continued his rotation policy in the Socceroos’ 3-0 defeat of a 10-man Nepal in Kuwait City on Saturday morning, making nine changes to the team that started in Australia’s previous match, last Tuesday’s 5-1 thrashing of Chinese Taipei.
But the time for rotating his large squad seems over for Arnold, who wants to finish Australia’s so far perfect second-round AFC 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in style.
Having sealed top spot in Group B and a spot in the next stage of qualifiers with 21 points from seven matches, the Socceroos won’t settle for anything less that eight from eight.
“I’ll put out the best side that we have, and I expect to another great performance,” Arnold said looking ahead to the battle with Jordan.
“We’re here to show everybody how much we’re committed to the Australian flag and to Australia the nation.
“We’ll recover, and we’ll get ready, and we’ll treat this as the “final” against Jordan.
“We expect eight in a row – not want, we expect.”
Led from the front with a goal and an assist ⚽️🎯
Congratulations to your #NEPvAUS Player of the Match, Mat Leckie 👏#AllForTheSocceroospic.twitter.com/yR3FRaYMiw
Arnold was pleased with the Socceroos’ performance against Nepal, despite Australia blowing several chances that could have resulted in a doubling of the scoreline.
“I’m very pleased with the way we controlled the game. The most pleasing aspect was the amount of chances we created,” he said.
“One day it will all come together and we’ll really hurt someone badly.
“The other pleasing thing is they didn’t have a shot at goal the whole night, so the defensive side was very good.”
Australia led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from captain Mat Leckie and right-back Fran Karacic, who was making just his second Socceroos appearance.
Nepal’s already difficult task became even harder in the 45th minute when defender Rohit Chand was sent off for a last-man foul on attacking weapon Martin Boyle.
Scotland-born Boyle increased Australia’s lead to three goals after 57 minutes with a close-range finish and it seemed the Socceroos were going to run riot against their outnumbered opponents.
However, a fine display from goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong and some spirited Nepal defending forced the Australians to settle for a 3-0 win.
It was the first time in 24 years the Socceroos had won seven successive matches.
A big congratulations to Lawrence Thomas on debuting for the @Socceroos and becoming Cap #613 💚💛#AllForTheSocceroos#NEPvAUSpic.twitter.com/s4VbIqOeQ6
Boyle admitted the Socceroos “could have and should have” scored more goals.
“I thought we dictated play from the start,” the Hibernian star said.
“We played at our tempo and created a lot of chances and maybe on another day we could have scored more.”
Arnold gave former goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas his first Socceroos cap, with the former Melbourne Victory gloveman replacing Sydney FC custodian Andrew Redmayne in the final 10 minutes.
Redmayne’s start and the involvement of Thomas meant Arnold had given game time to all four of his squad’s keepers – including Mat Ryan and Danny Vukovic – in the three games the Socceroos have so far played in their overall block of four Group B matches in Kuwait City.
Australia 3 (Leckie 6’, Karacic 38’, Boyle 57’) d Nepal 0 at the Jaber Al-Hamad Stadium, Kuwait City.
Socceroos: Andrew Redmayne (Lawrence Thomas 83’), Fran Karacic, Milos Degenek, Harry Souttar, Aziz Behich, Jackson Irvine, Connor Metcalfe, Martin Boyle (Awer Mabil 72’), Ajdin Hrustic (Ruon Tongyik 83’), Mathew Leckie (Jamie Maclaren 62’), Mitch Duke (Nikita Rukavytsya 62’).
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