Aussie Coach Arnold says defeat by Uruguay only toughens the squad

SYDNEY: Australia’s inexperienced team will derive huge benefit from their 2-1 loss to Uruguay for July’s first tilt at the Asian Cup, coach Graham Arnold said Sunday. 

The Aussies, minus seven established World Cup stars, scored after seven minutes and only lost to the former World Cup champions through a goalkeeping gaffe from debutant Brad Jones 13 minutes from time. 

Spot on: Mile Sterjovski (left) of Australia beats Uruguaygoalkeeper Fabian Carini to score the team's first goal during theirAsian Cup warm-up friendly in Sydney on Saturday. – AFP

The Socceroos, one of the fancied teams for the Asian Cup, have one more warm-up against Singapore on June 30 before they head to Bangkok for their group matches against Thailand, Oman and Iraq. 

Arnold was forced to choose a largely untried selection to face Uruguay after losing Germany World Cup stars Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Mark Bresciano, Vince Grella, Tim Cahill, John Aloisi and Mark Schwarzer. 

Despite the defeat, Arnold was pleased with what he saw as he plans to finalise his squad for the Asian Cup. 

“It was good to see players perform under pressure in front of their own supporters at home because when you play friendly games away and Asian Cup games you don’t get that same type of pressure,” he said. 

“It was interesting to see their behaviour during the week, how they reacted.” 

Arnold pointed out that both of Uruguay’s goals by Diego Forlan and Alvaro Recoba had come from Australian mistakes. 

“We’ve lost a game without a (Uruguayan) shot on goal,” he said. 

“Their two goals came from mistakes, they took a long free kick quick and we weren’t switched on for the first one and the second goal was a mistake. 

“That would have been probably the first time those young kids have ever played against a South American team. The way the South Americans react on the field with their antics, it’s going to make our players better. 

“We got plenty of balls into the box, it wasn’t as if we weren’t threatening at all. 

“What Uruguay are fantastic at, and we tried to warn our players about it during the week, is that South Americans can play at two tempos. 

“It’s so slow they can kill the game and they can put you in a false sense of security and then they hit you quickly ... that’s what they did. After about 25 minutes when we had played so well, we were controlling the game, and they brought our intensity level down to theirs. 

“They are so good at what they do and so lethal.” 

Arnold said he expects to name his squad for the Asian Cup over the next week. – AFP 

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