Sooceroos players congratulate Apostolos Giannou after his goal against Palestine. Picture: Getty Images
Sooceroos players congratulate Apostolos Giannou after his goal against Palestine. Picture: Getty Images

Arnold pledges to attack after Socceroos return to form

COACH Graham Arnold has pledged to play Syria "with all guns blazing" after the Socceroos rebounded from their dreadful Asian Cup start with a 3-0 triumph over Palestine.

Australia's vastly improved attacking display in Dubai on Friday puts them on the brink of qualifying for the round of 16.

Palestine set out to nullify and counter the defending champions in much the same way as Jordan did five days earlier in the Socceroos' shock 1-0 loss.

"It took a bit of time to get things going but as I said after the Jordan game, when you lose, you learn," Arnold said.

"We learnt a lot about that game and we went on the training pitch, we worked hard to fix that issue if teams play with a packed defence.

"Now it's all about the Syria game. We'll get back to the training field, we'll recover well and we'll go out in the Syria game with all guns blazing, expecting to win.

"I think we will get better and better as we go. There's been a lot of changes with the team, a lot of changes to the staff, so we're a new team and we're still growing."

Graham Arnold calls the shots during Australia’s clash with Palestine at Al Maktoum Stadium. Picture: AP
Graham Arnold calls the shots during Australia’s clash with Palestine at Al Maktoum Stadium. Picture: AP

As a collective the refinement was clear to see, but the breadth of individual displays was also promising.

Jamie Maclaren, Awer Mabil and substitute Apostolos Giannou all scored, Tom Rogic provided one assist and Chris Ikonomidis the other two.

Ikonomidis was one of two tactical changes to Arnold's line-up, the 23-year-old replacing Robbie Kruse on the left wing while Hull City midfielder Jackson Irvine slotted in for Massimo Luongo.

Rhyan Grant was a forced change to cater for Josh Risdon's injury, though the Sydney FC right-back strongly pressed his case for retention.

"Jackson Irvine was a tactical decision, Massimo Luongo has been playing fantastic but it was more about Jackson is great in the air and also on the set pieces," Arnold said.

"Chris Ikonomidis had a fantastic game. He was excellent today. It was a very young front line with a lot of energy with Mabil and Jamie and Tommy Rogic."

Arnold also praised Rogic for a tremendous shift despite playing with a broken hand and ankle sprain sustained against Jordan, while also carrying an existing knee injury.

"Tommy, that's how much pride he has in playing for the country," he said.

"He loves playing for Australia. He's very proud to play for Australia.

"He's gone through a little bit with obviously the hand situation but he was fantastic today."

Arnold must now mull some selection issues, with Trent Sainsbury suspended for copping his second yellow card of the tournament and Andrew Nabbout potentially fit to return up front.

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News Corp Australia


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