Graham Arnold remains upbeat despite the Socceroos' Asian Cup quarter-final loss. Picture: Francois Nel/Getty
Graham Arnold remains upbeat despite the Socceroos' Asian Cup quarter-final loss. Picture: Francois Nel/Getty

Arnold ‘very proud’ of beaten Aussies

COACH Graham Arnold has lamented the cruel nature of the Socceroos' Asian Cup exit but pleaded for patience as the national team fine-tunes a new style of play.

Australia sank to an upset 1-0 quarter-final loss to host nation the United Arab Emirates, undone by their customary inability to score - along with Milos Degenek's defensive howler.

"Football can be a cruel sport," Arnold said.

"It's probably the only sport in the world that you can control possession, you can have much more possession, can have more chances on goal, you can spend more time in the opposition's half and you can still lose.

"I couldn't be prouder of the boys. It's been a long camp, probably the longest they've been in camp, these players.

"It's been a wonderful experience for myself, for the staff, and the country should be very proud of them."

Fielding a squad missing the creative talents of Aaron Mooy, Martin Boyle and Daniel Arzani, the Socceroos drew blanks in three of their five games, scoring only against Palestine and Syria.

Some youngsters came to the fore, such as Chris Ikonomidis and Awer Mabil and older newcomer Rhyan Grant.

But in all Australia leaves its cup defence with the same front-third problems it carried through the last World Cup cycle.

"The style that we expect to play takes time," Arnold said.

"You've got to remember I've been in charge only for four months, I've only had eight games with these boys.

"The style is completely different to what they've ever played.

"Most important thing now for me is to go home, to get this Olympic team ready. We've got the Olyroos tournament.

"Getting those young players pushing through into the senior national team. Our goal is one day to be like Japan, where you can have 25-26 players at the same level and you can change players for every game."

"I'll be honest, I think that we've done very, very well this tournament. With the amount of players that haven't been capped, the whole frontline for the first three games had less than 10 games between all three of them.

"The inexperience - a couple of players from the A-League that have stepped up in Rhyan Grant, Chris Ikonomidis - who hadn't played before.

"I'm very, very proud of this group of players. They gave their all and that's all I can ask."