Socceroos coach Graham Arnold explains why the Matildas can win the World Cup thanks to a very underrated part of their game
- Aussies looking for best World Cup result vs France
- Arnold believes they can hoist the trophy on August 20
- Has high praise for an overlooked part of their game
Graham Arnold has singled out the Matildas’ excellent defence and the incredible support of Aussie fans as the biggest reasons they can win the World Cup.
The Socceroos coach was left very impressed by the team holding highly-rated Denmark and Canada goalless in their last two matches – the first time the side has ever recorded two clean sheets in back-to-back World Cup games.
He also said local fans who’ve packed sold-out stadiums and tuned in to matches in record numbers are so important to the team they should be known as the side’s ’12th player’.
The Matildas will be looking to rack up their best ever result at a World Cup by beating France in their quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon – but Arnold insists they can go much further than that.
Sam Kerr and fellow goal-scoring stars Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord have been in the spotlight at the World Cup – but Arnold is impressed with another facet of the team’s game
The Socceroos coach believes the team’s outstanding defence – led by stars like Alanna Kennedy (pictured against Denmark) – is crucial to their chances of lifting the trophy
‘With the 12th player being our fans, I think the Matildas can go all the way,’ he told News Corp.
‘The defensive performances, the effort and the old Aussie DNA is out in full force.
‘They certainly have the capabilities, skills and belief but the biggest thing is that they are really set up well defensively.
‘Denmark made it two clean sheets in a row and in World Cups, clean sheets are crucial.
‘Our defensive performances from front to back have been really good. Look at Denmark, they really only had one or two shots. Canada hardly had a shot as well.’
While attacking players like Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler have been in the spotlight during Sam Kerr’s World Cup injury absence, the Aussies’ ability to shut down other teams hasn’t attracted as much attention as what they can do with the ball.
Arnold added that Sam Kerr’s return against Les Bleues will give the Aussies ‘more energy and belief’ before praising the team’s physical abilities.
‘Australian women have genetic bodies that can play elite sport. They have that hand-eye coordination with athletic bodies,’ he said.
Arnold (pictured at the Dolan Warren Awards in June) is hoping the Matildas’ stunning success and support at the World Cup prompts the government to increase funding for football
Arnold’s remarks about ‘Aussie DNA’ will bring back memories of the Socceroos’ run at the Men’s World Cup in Qatar last year, where they recovered from an early hammering by France to bow out in a narrow loss to Argentina in the round of 16.
The side were hailed for their grit and determination as they overcame Tunisia and Denmark to book their date with Lionel Messi’s eventual champions.
The Socceroos boss has been vocal about increasing government funding for Australian football and he believes the Matildas’ success should increase the pressure on Anthony Albanese to do the right thing by the sport.
‘Let’s trust after this World Cup that the Government can help give us a home of football and that everyone respects our game. We need one for the Socceroos. We’ll see,’ he said.
‘You see everyone walking around in Australian football shirts, and that’s men’s and women’s.’