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Australia’s Arnold delighted as young guns deliver five-star Asian Qualifiers performance against Chinese Taipei

Kuwait City: Australia head coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for his young brigade after they played a key role in a 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei on Monday.

Harry Souttar, in his third appearance, opened the scoring, and two-cap midfielder Riley McGree bagged two assists, while exciting playmaker Denis Genreau was one of three players to make their international debut, along with Connor Metcalfe and Ruon Tongyik.

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In addition to Souttar’s towering early header, Mitchell Duke bagged a second half brace, while Trent Sainsbury and Jamie Maclaren also found the net, with Chinese Taipei’s sole reply coming from the boot of Gao Wei-jie.

The win puts Australia to within one win of a place in the Third Round of qualifying for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, as well as a direct place in the AFC Asian Cup 2023, with their six-match winning streak their best run at senior level since 2001.

Speaking post-match, much of Arnold’s happiness came from the performances of the new faces among the Socceroos line-up, which bore no resemblance to the one which had beaten Kuwait 3-0 four days prior.

“I was very happy with the performance,” said Arnold, who is in his second stint as national boss after guiding the team to the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals in 2007.

“We had a lot of inexperienced players. There were five players with just one or two caps and some with only three or four, so overall I thought that the performance was quite a good performance but there is still a lot of improvement in us yet.”

“We created a lot of chances but also we were lethal on our set-pieces. Set pieces are so important in international football and it shows that the boys are taking in the detail that we give them. It was great delivery from Riley McGree and Denis Genreau.”

Special praise went to the debuting trio of Genreau, Metcalfe and Tongyik, all of whom play for clubs in Australia’s A-League and who may yet play key roles in the Tokyo Olympics football tournament later this summer.

The group’s participation in these Qualifiers have come at the expense of important club fixtures, but Arnold firmly believes it’s a sacrifice worth making for both the players and Australian football as a whole.

“All three of them are young kids who have done exceptionally well at their clubs this year in the A-League, and no doubt it was tough for them to leave their clubs and miss the Finals Series, but to debut for your country, your nation, is special,” he said.

“Ruon Tongyik, when I said "come on", you should have seen the smile on his face. He was just so happy to get out there and debut for Australia. They all did exceptionally well. It’s part of the development of the Socceroos family and the Socceroos squad, and the young players are the strength of it.

“When I first took over the job I probably had a list of 14-15 players that the country trusted, but now I have probably got a list of 40 and we are headed down the right pathway.”

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