Socceroos can claim record by beating Oman


A FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign record awaits the Socceroos when they meet Oman.

Australia can create history by becoming the first national team to win 11 successive matches in a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign by beating Oman in Doha on Friday morning.

But fearing an unwanted distraction, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold hasn’t discussed the potential record with his players.

“We might be able to look back on that in years to come after we qualify for the World Cup,” Arnold said.

“The most important thing for me, and I’ve said this to all the players … is we just focus on this game against Oman and make sure we get the job done here and move forward.”

The Socceroos won eight successive matches in the previous round of qualifiers and backed that up with two more victories – over China and Vietnam – last month to head Group B with six points after two third-round games.

The top two teams from Groups A and B automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

The 1-0 win over Vietnam in steamy Hanoi conditions and on a bumpy pitch wasn’t pretty on the eye, but Arnold said the priority was picking up three points.

“I did get sent an article from a very experienced Socceroo who said it was one of the greatest results ever, in Mark Schwarzer,” he said.

“In those types of conditions, it’s result over performance … but I expect always a great performance.”

A “great performance” should be enough for the Socceroos to beat Oman, but Arnold won’t be underestimating a team that last month beat Japan, who Australia meets in Saitama next Tuesday night.

‘We respect every opposition, but my expectations are around our performances,” he said.

“We will improve every time we get together. Last camp we did very well, but I also expect an improvement on those performances.

“All the boys are happy and we’re ready.”

That includes Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant, who rather than return to Australia after last month’s qualifiers and be forced to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine, stayed abroad and trained with Scottish Premiership club Hibernian.

“Rhyan Grant’s in great shape. We’re very grateful to Hibs for having Rhyan and keeping him extremely fit,” Arnold said.’

‘He looks great. He’s come in with a lot of energy. He had a great experience at Hibs, and he looks very fit and well.

Grant and Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis are the only two current A-League players in the 25-man Socceroos squad.

“Chris Ikonomidis looks in great shape. (Victory coach) Tony Popovic and the Melbourne Victory staff have done a fantastic job with Chris,” Arnold said.

“He’s had four or five weeks straight in Melbourne where he’s worked extremely hard. He looks extremely fit and ready to go.”

Possible Socceroos XI: Mat Ryan, Rhyan Grant, Trent Sainsbury, Harry Souttar, Aziz Behich, Jackson Irvine, Ajdin Hrustic, Tom Rogic, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Adam Taggart.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – AFC Asian Qualifiers (Third Round)

Matchday 3: Australia v Oman

Friday, October 8

Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Kick-off: 5.30am AEDT

Broadcast: Live on 10 and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 5am (AEDT)

Matchday 4: Japan v Australia

Tuesday, October 12

Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan

Kick-off: 9.14pm (AEDT)

Broadcast: Live on 10 Bold and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 8.30pm (AEDT)

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