Soccer-Proud Arnold hails Australia's new 'golden generation'

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group D - Australia v Denmark - Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar - November 30, 2022 Australia coach Graham Arnold celebrates with Australia's Riley McGree and Australia's Mitchell Duke after qualifying for the knockout stages REUTERS/John Sibley

DOHA (Reuters) - Socceroos coach Graham Arnold believes the team that battled their way past Denmark and into the World Cup last 16 on Wednesday have a case to be considered the new "golden generation" of Australian football.

Arnold's squad are only the second Australian team to progress from the group stage of the World Cup after the 2006 vintage, a side almost entirely made up of household names from top European clubs.

The 2022 squad have far less pedigree but have matched their predecessors' achievement in getting to the knockout stages, and surpassed them by winning two matches at a World Cup.

"I'm just so proud of the players, the work ethic, the commitment, the fight that they had and the way they played," Arnold, an assistant to coach Guus Hiddink in 2006, told reporters.

"I'm just so proud that we've been able to put smiles on people's faces, it's first time ever an Australian team has won two games in a row at the World Cup.

"Maybe we're talking about a new golden generation now, because we've been listening and hearing about the golden generation of 2006, who got four points and now we've got six."

Arnold paid special tribute to goalscorer Mat Leckie and centre half Harry Souttar and said he had selected his teams in Qatar as much for their fighting spirit as their skill.

"You need the right mentality," he added. "People were probably surprised with some of my selections at the start of this World Cup, but it's just that I know the players so well.

"I know the mentally strong ones and the ones that will die for the team and die for each other. They're the ones I back and they're the ones that I know that are gonna get the job done."

Thousands of fans descended on Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne in the middle of the night to watch the match and there were frenzied scenes when Leckie scored the winning goal, and again at the final whistle.

"I truly believe that the Socceroos are the team that unites a nation," Arnold said.

"You don't see this when the Cricket World Cup is on, Federation Square like it is, or in pubs like they are, and if it's rugby union, rugby league or anything. But the World Cup of football unites a nation."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Ed Osmond)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!


Next In Football

Soccer-Barcelona earn a hard-fought 2-1 win at Betis
Soccer-Martial, Fred strike as Man United ease past Forest into final
Soccer-Bayern cruise into German Cup last eight with first win of the year
Soccer-Al Ahly cruise to 3-0 win over Auckland City at Club World Cup
Soccer-U.S. women's coach still tinkering ahead of World Cup defence
Soccer-PSG extend Ligue 1 lead with Montpellier win as Mbappe limps off
Soccer-'I'm not going anywhere' - Herdman committed to Canada
Soccer-Premier League is 'financially doped', says LaLiga president
Soccer-Within FFP rules, but Chelsea take huge gamble
Soccer-'King Kazu' to play on aged 55 after move to Portugal

Others Also Read