EXCLUSIVE: Socceroos manager Graham Arnold SLAMS the A-League for ‘destroying national teams’ and explains why Australia will have a ‘pivotal’ advantage at the World Cup when big countries may struggle
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold has criticized next season’s A-League schedule and believes a number of top nations could struggle at the World Cup in Qatar in November as his side have an ace up his sleeve.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Australia, the 59-year-old expressed his anger at the struggling men’s domestic competition which will not resume until October 7, when Melbourne City host the winners of last season’s grand final, Western United at AAMI Park.
Given that United manager John Aloisi’s team lifted the trophy after May 28, it is the longest off-season in world football.
Arnold believes the huge gap between campaigns is incredibly damaging – and has been for the Socceroos, Olyroos and other Australian youth teams for many years.
“The gap between A-League seasons is destroying national teams,” Arnold said.
“Why games aren’t played from April to October or November every year, I’ll never understand.”
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold has criticized the A-League’s season schedule and believes a number of top countries could struggle at the World Cup in Qatar.
Mat Ryan is tipped to captain the Socceroos in Qatar and will be fit if he avoids injury with Danish club FC Copenhagen
“I would love to play regular international friendlies in September and October before Qatar, but the A-League guys aren’t fit at the moment so I can’t choose them.”
The trickle down effect means Arnold will have to pick local players in his final World Cup squad based on reputation, not fitness, which will put the team at a disadvantage to their opponents.
As a result, playing in the early rounds of the A-League will mean little to players looking to impress Arnold in the 11th hour.
“I already have a good idea of who I want, but given that it’s a World Cup year, the situation is not ideal,” he explained.
“The FFA [Football Federation Australia] did all they could, bringing the [A-League] season three weeks in advance.
“But at international level, all the little things can make a huge difference.”
Many advise England to excel at the World Cup in Qatar – but Arnold says it remains to be seen how they adapt to the heat (pictured, striker Harry Kane)
Andrew Redmayne was the hero of the Socceroos’ penalty shoot-out win over Peru in June – he is set to be part of Arnold’s final squad
With Australia facing World Cup favorites France (23 November), Tunisia (26 November) and Denmark (1 December), recovery time between group matches will be limited.
Many expect the Socceroos to be cannon fodder after taking part in the tournament, but Arnold is quietly confident.
“We have already played five games in Qatar – and won all five matches,” he stressed.
“The boys know what to expect in terms of local conditions and culture…and that could prove crucial.
“You have to train in the heat, and then with air-conditioned stadiums, it takes time to adapt.
“Peru came late before they played us, and that was definitely a factor in my eyes in terms of their performance in our World Cup qualifier.
“Don’t be surprised to see some of the biggest nations struggling, the heat can be tough to handle.”
The Socceroos’ three matches in Group D will be played at Al-Wakrah Stadium.
Don’t miss Part II of Arnold’s conversation with Daily Mail Australia, where he discusses the Guus Hiddink factor, the dangers of social media for footballers and his plans after the 2022 World Cup