Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has revealed he won’t let his team make the same mistake that other teams have made after upset wins at the World Cup.
The Qatar World Cup has seen some big upsets, with Japan beating 2014 champions Germany and Saudi Arabia beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
But both those teams struggled after that, with Saudi Arabia losing to Poland and Mexico to crash out and Japan losing to a Costa Rica team beaten 7-0 in its opening game.
After Australia’s remarkable 1-0 win against Denmark to set up a round of 16 clash with Argentina on Sunday morning, Arnold was intent on not letting his players get complacent.
After the Tunisia win, Arnold got the players in a circle and told them they’d achieved nothing and there was still one more game.
Unsurprisingly the message was exactly the same.
“I said exactly the same, because I truly believe it,” he said.
“You look at Japan, you look at Saudi and look at underdogs. They achieve something and get a great result, they’re celebrating and they’re very emotional,” he said.
“And again I hate saying this, but they go on social media until 4-5 in the morning, reading all these comments and pats on the back.
“I’ve been around long enough, the most important thing is recovery, (good) sleep and making sure you’re ready for the next game.”
In fact, Arnold joked the only reward his players would get for the Denmark win was water.
After England beat Wales 3-0 to top Group B, manager Gareth Southgate said he’ll allow his players a milkshake as a treat.
But Arnold was having none of it.
When asked what he’d allow his players, he held up a bottle of water.
“Bottle of water,” he joked.
“We’re in a fantastic facility – Aspire – where we can’t get out anyway.”
Making the round of 16 equals the achievements of the 2006 squad, which was knocked out by a late penalty by eventual winners Italy.
That squad included the likes of Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer and has been remembered as the Golden Generation since.
Arnold was assistant coach in 2006 under Dutch mastermind Guus Hiddink, but says maybe it’s time to stop talking about the Golden Generation.
“Maybe we’re talking about a new golden generation, because I’ve been listening and hearing about the golden generation of 2006 that got four points and now we’ve got six points,” he said.
“We’re talking about a new generation.”
Arnold called it “remarkable” after Australia reached the last 16 of the World Cup for only the second time with a 1-0 win over Denmark on Wednesday.
Winger Mathew Leckie scored the winner on the hour with a smart run and finish to end Denmark’s Qatar hopes at the group stage.
This Socceroos side does not have the stars of yesteryear but they make up for it with spirit and hard work, and showed flashes of quality in a strangely subdued encounter.
“I am just so proud of the players’ work ethic, their commitment, their fight,” said Arnold.
“We had some moments there (against Denmark) but defensively we were outstanding tonight.”
The 59-year-old, whose side were thumped 4-1 by France at the start of the tournament, added: “I am so proud and happy, this is what World Cups are for.
“I truly believe that the Socceroos are the team that unite the nation.”
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was at a loss to explain how his team had exited the tournament with just a solitary point.
“It really irritates and frustrates me, and I am really sad,” he said. Hjulmand added: “There is no doubt that we did not reach our level… it is my responsibility.
“There was too much emotion and too little quality.” “All my waking hours I tried to prepare as best I could,” he said. “There was a lack of enthusiasm and coherence… where did that come from?”