May 18, 2024


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‘I haven’t even thought about it’: Arnold future unclear as FA start World Cup review

Graham Arnold’s tenure as Socceroos coach will be unresolved for at least a month as Football Australia review the World Cup campaign.

Arnold’s contract ended when the Socceroos were knocked out in Qatar with a 2-1 loss to Argentina in a round of 16 clash. The Socceroos boss is now on holiday as he weighs his future.

“I just want to go away, have a good holiday, have a break and see what happens,” Arnold said after the Argentina game.

“I haven’t even thought about it (my future). I need a rest and no doubt I will have good discussions then with the organisation.”

FA chief executive James Johnson said those discussions and other staffing matters would be part of an in-depth review into Australia’s cup campaign.

“We look forward to discussing our plans for the next World Cup cycle with Graham when he returns to Australia following a well-deserved break,” Johnson said.

“This thorough review will take place over the coming weeks and be presented to the board of Football Australia for consideration in the New Year.”

Arnold has called for more government funding, focused on junior development, to build on the momentum of the Socceroos’ World Cup run.

Arnold’s Aussies were just the second Socceroos outfit to advance to the knockout phase, following the 2006 edition.

His Socceroos were the first to win two games at a single edition and also the first to keep consecutive clean sheets.

The Australians, ranked 38th in the world, downed Tunisia and Denmark while losing to reigning title holders and world No.4 France and world No.3 Argentina.

Arnold wants a headquarters built for Australia’s national teams and an expanded A-League to offer greater opportunity for young footballers to turn professional.

“There’s only one thing the A-League needs to do and it’s play more football,” he said. “They don’t play enough, 25, 26 games (in a season) isn’t enough, 12 teams isn’t enough.

“We need to give kids more opportunity to be professional footballers and play more football. The quality of the A-League … the boys here have shown, they have come from the A-League and they can match it on the world stage.

“I’m a firm believer in it. And we have got those young kids coming through, they have got to be ready.”

FA chief Johnson lauded the achievements of Arnold and his players. “The performance … has demonstrated we can compete on the world stage,” Johnson said. “There has never been a more exciting time for Australian football.

“We will now use this platform to continue forging forward and grow as a football nation, with player development at the centre of this.”

The Socceroos players backed the idea. Craig Goodwin returned from a career abroad in the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia to rejoin Adelaide United, and proved that domestic players can cut it on the biggest stage by scoring twice at the World Cup.

“We hope that we have inspired the young generation to push themselves,” said Goodwin. ‘We hope that what we have achieved can help grow the game back home.

“Because the A-League is better than it is perceived. The quality of Australian football is better than it’s perceived. It has been that way for a long time but hopefully what we have achieved can put Australian football on the map and help the game grow.

“It comes from the grassroots of Australian football. The more we can do and the better we can build to train and coach the young players to match it with the best in the world, then the better chance we have in the future of doing even better at these tournaments.

“We have the Aussie DNA, the Aussie spirit. But if we can produce the same level of technical ability and tactical ability as some of the European nations, some of the South American nations, if we can hit that mark in those aspects, and then have the Aussie DNA, then we have a real chance to do something special.

“We always believe in ourselves but there’s work to be done.”

Jamie Maclaren, who underwent a similar career trajectory in Scotland and Germany, but is now back in Australia with Melbourne City, agreed.

“Hopefully we can inspire more younger players to want to play for their country and play at this level,” he said.

“I hope it puts fire in the belly for fans and really inspires kids and families to come watch our games. I just hope there is going to be a generational shift, that us boys coming back from the World Cup can inspire younger kids and families to come to games because that is we need.

“We have been knocked out of the tournament by one of the best nations in the world (Argentina) and we lost to the defending champions (France) in the group stage.

“We have proved to a lot of people that we can really compete at the top level. There’s not that many people that really believed that … but we just showed how much heart we really do have.

“We might not be, in the world scale, the best individual players but I do believe we’re the best team collectively … we achieved what no one thought we could ever achieve.”