FIFA World Cup 2022: Australian Socceroos schedule, game against Argentina, assistant Rene Meulensteen, commentary, reactions, response

Socceroos staff and players have questioned the remarkably-brutal FIFA World Cup scheduling that means Australia basically “won’t train” before their gigantic showdown with Argentina.

Coach Graham Arnold has read the riot act to his players all tournament about not celebrating, or overusing social media, with the tight schedule in Qatar meaning a group stage game every four days.

That message was even more pertinent after Australia’s 1-0 win over Denmark, with his squad now having a day less preparation before Sunday morning’s (AEDT) Round of 16 clash.

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Lionel Messi’s Argentina are in the same boat of course, in fact they have a few less hours to prepare having beaten Poland in the later game on Wednesday, but Meulensteen isn’t a fan.

“The thing for me is, how can the FIFA organisation, for such a high prestigious tournament … the four-day turnovers were already short, you go through the group stage and then you make it even shorter?,” said the experienced Meulensteen, whose extensive memory includes coaching Manchester United’s first team.

“So if you want a high quality performance in a World Cup …OK, it’s also the same for the other team.

“But we’ve almost got no time to let it all sink in, enjoy it … it’s recovery, recovery, recovery. Really it will be about getting their brains ready, mentally ready for that match.

“But one thing I can tell you, we will be ready’”

Socceroos defender Milos Degenek backed up the stance when fronting the media on Doha on Thursday morning.

“It’s something that FIFA need to consider, that we’re not robots, that we are humans and that we do need to recover,” Degenek said.

“And that we can’t just play, day after day. We need a break as well. And not just me, I think the boys especially the boys that played three in a row and they have a short turnaround now again.

“But they’ll recover, they’ll get back and they’ll be ready. “

Australia have trumpeted their home base at the $1.3bn Aspire Academy – and access to the nearby Aspetar sports science hospital – as a secret weapon for the campaign, with facility also used by host nation Qatar.

It could well prove a critical advantage as the Socceroos gear up for arguably the biggest match in Australian football history.

Veteran defender Aziz Behich said the reality was the next 48 hours would be about recovering, mentally and physically.

“There won’t be much training,” Behich said.

“We’re lucky we’ve got the facilities we’ve got … the federation’s done well and the coaching staff to get us those facilities so it will just be about getting the body right and it will be similar to this last turnaround (between the wins over Tunisia and Denmark).

“We will analyse opponent but right now it’s about enjoying tonight and we go again in the morning.”

Originally published as Socceroos call out FIFA as World Cup’s glaring problem exposed

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