Aussies primed for World Cup soccer ‘war’


Coach Graham Arnold prepares his Australians for a football war.

The Socceroos’ World Cup aspirations hinge on Saturday’s clash against Tunisia in Qatar.

After suffering a 4-1 thrashing from France, another defeat will send Arnold’s Australians out of the cup in the group stage.

And while defending champions France presented a challenge of flair and finesse, the Tunisians are full of spirit.

“We have to be ready for this war,” Arnold told reporters.

“They’re aggressive and they’re going to have 40,000 fans behind them and it’s going to be a really amazing experience for everyone again.”

Arnold’s message to his players is straightforward.

“Fight fire with fire, especially early on,” he said.

“And then when we’re up, put out the fire.”

Arnold is likely to call up playmaker Ajdin Hrustic, who missed the loss to the Blues.

The attacking midfielder hasn’t played since sustaining an ankle injury on October 3. In line to come off the bench against the French, he was kept on the ice given the rout.

“Ajdin Hrustic’s ankle is good, 95 (percent) so the other five don’t matter,” Arnold said.

“He can start.”

Arnold was tight-lipped on further potential changes to his roster against France, a game he said exposed Australia technically rather than tactically.

“All the stats showed that (the players) put more than 100%,” he said.

“But it’s those little mistakes that turn into big mistakes.

“If there is something that has been shown, it is the technical aspect.

“Work rate, commitment – everything was fantastic.

“It wasn’t the intention to roll back as far as we did, but technically we turned the ball over which made us roll back more.

“Overall, we have to be in their faces (from Tunisia) and prepare for it.”

Tunisia drew against Denmark, deploying a wall of five defenders which Arnold said was a change from their tradition.

“They only played this (formation) once,” he said.

“Tunisia, in every game we watched, they played a four-three-three and we expect them to come back to that.

“They came into that first game against Denmark more defensively with a back five.”

And Arnold’s research has brought to light Tunisia’s major weapon, their captain Youssef Msakni.

“He’s running the show. We’ve identified that and we’ll find a solution,” Arnold said.

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