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Coach Graham Arnold is counting on “Aussie mental strength” to see his side to victory over United Arab Emirates on Tuesday and through to another playoff battle for a place in the Fifa World Cup finals.

Updated  

Jun-06 20:06 first published at 20:06 PM


Doha: Coach Graham Arnold is banking on “Aussie mental strength” to help his team beat the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday and advance to the Fifa World Cup finals. Arnold stated that Australia prefers the “hard way” of qualifying, but stressed that his team is ready for the confrontation with UAE at Doha’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

On June 13, the winner will face Peru in the same air-conditioned stadium for a spot in the finals, which will begin in Qatar in November. The final qualifying slot will be decided by a match between New Zealand and Costa Rica a day later.

Due to coronavirus travel restrictions, Australia has played 14 of its 18 qualifying round games in the Middle East, according to Arnold, who also praised the team’s track record of making the finals through playoffs.

“Australians are accustomed to doing things the hard way. “This is our seventh playoff appearance, and we’re used to it,” the coach said at a press conference before the team’s final training session on Monday.

His biggest responsibility, he said, would be to mentally prepare a team that, while reaching the finals for the fifth time in a row, has struggled to recover after losing the first goal.

“Right now, we have a very strong bunch of guys who have a lot of confidence in themselves.” We are physically prepared for this game.

“We have had a lot of guys miss games in the past because to Covid and overseas travel. But now all of that has been eliminated,” he explained.

“Mentally, the boys are in terrific spirits, and I feel we will pull through without mental Aussie strength.”

Forward Mitchell Duke, a second-division player in Japan, said the game would be “a fantastic occasion.” The boys are all aware of the stakes.”

A few hundred Australian fans are likely to attend the game, which will pit them against tens of thousands of UAE fans who are travelling in to see their team qualify for the first time since 1990.

“We are playing the most crucial match in our country’s history,” Caio Canedo, a Brazilian-born player for the Emirates, remarked.

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