IMPRESSED by the improved standard of this season’s A-League, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has vowed to give Australia-based players chances to shine in upcoming friendly internationals against South Korea and Lebanon.
The Socceroos’ 2019 Asian Cup preparations will step up a notch when they host the South Koreans at Suncorp Stadium on November 17, and Lebanon three days later in Sydney.
Arnold said he had the pleasant selection headache of trying to reduce a shortlist of 38 players to 23 for the two matches.
That 38 includes A-League talent, which is potentially good news for the likes of Adelaide United FFA Cup hero Craig Goodwin, Brisbane Roar striker Adam Taggart, who last played for the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup, and Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante, an unlucky omission from Australia’s 2018 World Cup squad.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold in Brisbane on Wednesday. Picture: Mark Cranitch.Source:News Limited
And with Arnold promising to field different starting teams in the two matches, A-League stars have a genuine to force their way into selection calculations for January’s Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
“A few of the A-League boys are now really in contention,” the Socceroos boss said.
“Before our Turkey camp in September the A-League wasn’t playing, for the October camp the A-League wasn’t playing, but it’s started now and you can see some of the A-League boys coming into form.
“I’m watching them very closely. I know what a lot of the A-League players can do.”
Arnold was recently in the Netherlands to watch some matches and had no doubt Australia’s national competition was superior.
“I’ve just been to Holland to see some games and I’d say that A-League level is better. The standard here is getting better and better ¬ if you play well and perform well then you’ll definitely be selected,” he said.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says he’s been having a close look at Brisbane Roar striker Adam Taggart. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
“The A-League has started off fantastically this year – the games have been very good.”
And that’s not forgetting Tuesday night’s memorable FFA Cup final, in which attacking weapon Goodwin scored two crackers to inspire the Reds to a 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium.
“Craig is in the same position as a lot of the other Australians playing in the A-League. Everyone has an opportunity and if you perform at that level,” Arnold said.
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“No matter where you play, if you perform, I will look at you.”
That includes 25-year-old Roar marksman Taggart, who scored in Brisbane’s 1-1 season-opening draw with Central Coast Mariners on October 21 but missed a host of opportunities in the same match.
Craig Goodwin scored two cracking goals to secure the FFA Cup for Adelaide United on Tuesday night. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
“He’s definitely one we’re looking closely at because Adam has shown that he’s got the qualities,” said Arnold, a former Socceroos striker.
“He had a fantastic year at Newcastle when he was the leading goalscorer in that (2013-14) season.
“He went overseas, and it didn’t work out for him. Sometimes after that it takes a little bit of time to refocus and readjust.
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“Yes he missed some against the Mariners, but for me it’s all about the strikers getting in positions to score goals.
“When I played as a centre-forward, if I went two or three games and didn’t have a chance, then I was more worried about that than about missing chances.
“He’s that type of player for who goals will come. I expect him to be up the top of the list about of the leading goalscorers in the A-League this season.”
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Originally published as Arnold: A-League better than Holland
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