Presence of UAE fans in Asian Cup quarter-final can work to Australia's advantage, says Graham Arnold
Socceroos manager says his players will thrive in packed stadium even if it is filled with supporters of home team
Graham Arnold says an electric atmosphere at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium packed with thousands of UAE fans could work in Australia's favour.
The defending Asian Cup champions take on the hosts in Al Ain on Friday for the right to make the semi-finals of the continental championship. The venue is expected to be thronged by UAE supporters, which should in theory work in favour of the home team, but the Socceroos manager found a way to turn that theory on its head on Thursday.
“It [fan support] can help, or it can put lot of pressure being a home nation,” Arnold said. “It has nothing to do with us, but all we can do is prepare ourselves properly and get ourselves ready.
“If you ask my players whom they would like to play - against the UAE with 25,000 [spectators] or Uzbekistan with 3,000 - all of them will say 25,000 fans against the UAE. Everyone likes to play in a great atmosphere."
The 55-year-old said his players were professionals who have had "the experience to deal with all sorts of emotions".
“We have worked with our players to get the mental advantage over the opposition," he added. "We have lot of belief in our players.”
That said, Arnold has much regard for the UAE - a side they beat in the 2015 semi-finals when it was their turn to host the competition.
“We respect the UAE,” he said, while acknowledging the fact the opponents have yet to lose a game in the 2019 event.
While comparing the playing style of Alberto Zaccheroni's side to those of Syria and Palestine, Arnold said: “We will play our way and our style, and we expect to dominate the game."
Arnold has yet to announce the composition of his side due to injuries.
“I have decided not to name the team which I do before the last training session,” he said. “There are players still recovering as we are playing after just three days, and I want to see the mentality and freshness, and the decision of the line-up will be tomorrow morning.”
Arnold will definitely miss the services of midfielder Tomas Rogic, who is serving a one-match ban after receiving two yellow cards in the tournament, but the 55-year-old is confident of fielding an appropriate replacement.
Updated: January 24, 2019 08:49 PM