Graham Arnold expects his Socceroos side to “improve in every facet” against Vietnam tonight following last week’s 3-0 win against China.
Speaking at a press conference from Hanoi, the Australian head coach was steadfastly optimistic ahead of the World Cup qualification contest kicking off at 10:00pm AEST.
“I expect a great performance,” Arnold said.
Despite a short turn-around from the China match, he added the Australian squad is in “great shape”.
Martin Boyle is the only notable injury concern, with the winger still recovering from a tight hamstring sustained in the second half of Friday’s game.
Arnold labelled Boyle, Australia’s second goalscorer against China, a “50/50 chance” to play tonight and said he’d decide his role after last night’s final training session.
One of Mitchell Duke, Riley McGree, Awer Mabil and Jackson Irvine could be in line to replace Boyle on the right wing, Arnold said, but another contender was a particular subject of attention.
Daniel Arzani suffered an ACL injury three years ago and has struggled to get on the pitch ever since.
The 22-year-old hasn’t played for the Socceroos since 2018 but Arnold backed him to regain his World Cup form.
“Daniel played more minutes at the Olympics with me than he’s done in two seasons in club football,” Arnold said.
“He’s had a tough last couple of years but I’m 100 percent sure the kid will bounce back and get that career back on track.”
Midfielder Aaron Mooy’s fitness was also assessed last night as he staked his claim for a promotion to the starting eleven.
Arnold went on to dismiss the prospect of resting key players for the clash against Group B minnows Vietnam, a team ranked 57 places below the Socceroos.
“It’s a World Cup qualifier. I’ve got to put my best team out there that I feel is ready to go onto the pitch and perform at its best,” he said.
Vietnam last week played its first-ever game in the final stage of World Cup qualifying, taking the lead against Saudi Arabia before conceding the last three goals.
The Vietnamese will set up in a 5-4-1 formation, apply a “deep block”, then look to counter, according to the Australian boss.
“What’s important for us is making sure our combination play is good, we get our cues right and we get players in the box to score goals,” he said.
“We will go out there tomorrow night, put a lot of pressure on Vietnam and expect to get the three points.”
However, not everything is going Australia’s way in the lead-up.
A stormy, humid Hanoi evening is expected to be the scene of tonight’s action.
“You can[‘t] only use [the conditions] as an excuse,” Arnold said.
“I expect, every time, we go out there on the pitch and we play our way.”
There are some on-field situations that you just can’t predict, though.
During a training pitch session, the visitors were greeted by a few amphibious friends.
“There were frogs on the pitch!” Arnold exclaimed.
The frogs may not have been singing, but Arnold hopes his team will be movin’ right along nonetheless tonight against Vietnam at 10pm AEST.