FIFA World Cup Qatar: Socceroos coach Graham Arnold ‘ready for war’ in must-win game against Tunisia

Coach Graham Arnold is priming his Australians for a football war.

The Socceroos’ World Cup aspirations hinge on Saturday’s clash against Tunisia in Qatar.

WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Socceroo Craig Goodwin on his epic goal against France.

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After copping a 4-1 drubbing from France, another loss will send Arnold’s Australians out of the cup at the group stage.

And while reigning champions France presented a challenge of flair and finesse, the Tunisians are full of fanatical fire.

“We’ve got to be ready for that war,” Arnold told reporters.

“They are aggressive and they’re going to have 40,000 fans behind them and it’s going to be a truly amazing experience again for everyone.”

Graham Arnold during the Socceroos match against France. Credit: Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Arnold’s message to his players is blunt.

“Fight fire with fire, especially from the start,” he said.

“And then when we’re up, put the fire out.”

Arnold is likely to summon playmaker Ajdin Hrustic, who missed the loss to Les Bleus.

The attacking midfielder has not played since suffering an ankle injury on October 3. In line to come from the bench against the French, he was kept on ice given the rout.

“Ajdin Hrustic’s ankle is good, 95 (per cent) so the other five doesn’t matter,” Arnold said.

“He can start.”

Arnold was tight-lipped on other potential changes from his line-up against France, a game which he said exposed Australia technically rather than tactically.

“All the stats showed (the players) put in 100 per cent plus,” he said.

Ajdin Hrustic looks set to return for the Socceroos. Credit: Ryan Pierse – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

“But it’s those little mistakes that turn into big mistakes.

“If there was anything that was shown up, it was the technical side of it.

“Work-rate, commitment – everything was fantastic.

“It was not the intention to drop back as far as we did but technically we turned the ball over, that pushed us back further.

“Overall, we have got to be in their (Tunisia’s) faces and get ready for that.”

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Tunisia drew their cup opener against Denmark, deploying a wall of five defenders which Arnold noted was a change from their tradition.

“They’ve played that (formation) only once,” he said.

“Tunisia, over every game we have watched, they have played a four-three-three and we expect them to go back to that.

“They went into this first game against Denmark more defensively minded with a back five.”

And Arnold’s research has highlighted Tunisia’s major weapon, their captain Youssef Msakni.

“He runs the show. We have identified that and we’ll come up with a solution,” Arnold said.

Australia v Tunisia at a glance

Saturday November 26, 2100 AEDT

Al Janoub Stadium, Doha, Qatar

World rankings: Australia 38, Tunisia 30

Highest ever ranking: Australia 14 (2009), Tunisia 14 (2018)

Lowest ever ranking: Australia 102 (2014), Tunisia 65 (2010)

Head-to-head: Played: 2. Australia 1 win, 1 loss

Past meetings:

1/10/97: Australia 3-0 (friendly, Tunis, Tunisia)

21/6/05: Tunisia 2-0 (Confederations Cup, Leipzig, Germany)


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