Graham Arnold will need to reshuffle his line-up.
Graham Arnold will need to reshuffle his line-up.

Arnold urges Roos to get ruthless with Uzbeks

Coach Graham Arnold has challenged the Socceroos to be more ruthless in front of goal as they look to blast their way into the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Australia will play Uzbekistan in the round of 16 early on Tuesday morning, having widely scouted their opponents in the lead-up to the match.

While Arnold hasn't gone to the lengths of Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa, whose tactics have ignited a ''Spygate'' firestorm in England, he admits to gathering so much intel on their Asian Cup rivals they are prepared for any possible scenario.

There is little more information he needs to give to his players ahead of the clash, except to sharpen up in front of goal after several chances went begging in their 3-2 victory over Syria in their final group game last week.

Arnold pointed out there's a limit to which analysis is useful, intent on striking the fine balance between giving players helpful hints and overloading them.

"Any more than three messages, it becomes too confusing," he said.

"It can be paralysis by analysis, you can do too much. Football, in my view, is a simple game.

"The more complicated you make it the more confusing you make it. There's not much to hide anymore.

"Set pieces - seriously, the amount of detail that goes into set pieces and all that type of stuff … to try and strike something completely different.

"We've still got some things we haven't shown the opposition yet on set pieces that will come out in the knockout stage."


Mathew Leckie returns from injury. Picture: Getty Images
Mathew Leckie returns from injury. Picture: Getty Images


Mat Leckie will return from his hamstring injury to the bench with the prospect of a cameo against the Uzbeks, depending how the game pans out.

"The most important thing is the mind and the brain and making sure that the emotional side of it doesn't take over the tactical side and the game plan side," Arnold said.

That tactical side was there to see in camp, where tactics are specifically formulated to target each opponent's vulnerabilities and then practised again and again.

Arnold has armed himself with an arsenal of knowledge on his rivals, prompting questions about Leeds boss Bielsa in his pre-match press conference.

The Argentine not only admitted to secretly watching all the English Championship leaders' adversaries train, but took journalists through a 70-minute PowerPoint presentation replete with data.

Arnold's information-gathering techniques are not nearly as clandestine - he says the Socceroos don't send covert scouts to their opposition's training sessions - but he agreed with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola that "everybody does it".