Australia target Japan next after making World Cup history


Sydney (AFP) – Australia coach Graham Arnold says his only focus is next week’s clash with Japan after the Socceroos became the first team to win 11 games in a row in the same World Cup qualifying campaign.

They achieved the historic feat by beating Oman 3-1 in Qatar on Thursday, with Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitch Duke getting on the scoresheet.

The victory ensured Australia top Group B on goal difference from Saudi Arabia in the third and final round of Asian World Cup qualifying for Qatar, having coasted through the previous rounds with eight straight wins.

In the process, they edged past Germany, Spain and Mexico, who each won 10 in a row on their paths to the World Cups in Russia 2018, South Africa 2010 and Germany 2006 respectively.

Australia’s streak, which stretches back to September 2019, is all the more impressive given every game bar one has been away from home due to Covid-19.

While praising his charges, Arnold stressed the job of booking their place at next year’s World Cup still wasn’t done and making history could wait.

“It’s something we’ll probably reflect on in the future and what a great feat it has been, especially playing 10 out of 11 games away from home,” he said.

“But to me it’s all about going to Japan and getting ready for Japan in Japan and making it 12 (wins).”

Australia head to Japan at the weekend ahead of Tuesday’s crunch clash with the Blue Samurai in Saitama, looking to not just bag another win but add to the eight clean sheets they have kept in the 11-match run.

Arnold said there were still areas of their game they must improve on.

“We got dragged into an erratic game at times. Oman threw a lot at us,” he said of their first-half performance.

“But once we got the boys in at half-time and calmed them down and we focused more on keeping the ball and moving them sideways and making them chase the ball, I felt that we took over the game.”

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