Graham Arnold says the Socceroos are prepared for a combative encounter with Tunisia as the Australians fight to keep their World Cup campaign alive.
- Graham Arnold says the Socceroos will match the “physical aspect” of the Tunisians
- Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri says the Socceroos have “weaknesses” his team will look to exploit
- Nathaniel Atkinson has been ruled out with injury, and will be replaced by Fran Karačić
It was a sentiment matched by Tunisian coach Jalel Kadri, as both coaches prepare to send their teams into what promises to be a physical encounter.
“It will be very, very physical game,” Arnold said.
“The Tunisians like a physical game and we have got to match that physical aspect.”
Kadri said his team was equally ready to counter the specific qualities of the Socceroos.
“These are the specificities of the Australian team, it has a high level of athletic performance,” Kadri told reporters.
“They have players who are able to run very rapidly, who can ensure a good exploitation of opportunities.
“Nevertheless they have some weaknesses which we will be able to invest in.”
“And we have players who are ready to face this challenge.”
Arnold confirmed the Socceroos would be making at least one change to their starting XI, with an ankle injury keeping right back Nathaniel Atkinson out of the Tunisia match.
He will be replaced by Fran Karačić.
The Australians must win or draw against Tunisia at Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday to retain a chance of advancing from a World Cup group for the just the second time.
The Socceroos are also likely to summon influential midfielder Ajdin Hrustic, who missed the opening game and hasn’t played since copping an ankle injury in Italian club ranks on October 3.
Coach Arnold rates Hrustic 95 per cent fit but, beyond Karačić’s inclusion, was reluctant to detail any other changes.
“He (Hrustic) trained well, he’s recovering well, he’s mentally and physically in good shape,” Arnold said.
“I don’t think there will be too many changes, we have got to put our strongest line-up out.”
Socceroos defender Aziz Behich said the squad was boosted after their France failure by footage from Melbourne’s Federation Square of jubilant supporters celebrating Craig Goodwin’s goal.
“We all saw the footage after Goody scored and it gives us goosebumps that you do that to the nation back home,” Behich told reporters.
“It (the Tunisia game) is a perfect time for everyone back home.
“We’re going to go out there all guns blazing.
“And when that final whistle goes, we want to see more footage of everyone at Fed Square going crazy again.
“We know what is ahead of us … it’s going to be a fight and we have got to match that fight and then play our football.
“And that football we played against France in the first 30 [minutes], that has got to be 70, 80, 90 minutes.”