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Arnold proud of Australia's resilience


Bangkok: Head coach Graham Arnold has praised the character of his Australia team after they sensationally came from behind to beat Thailand 2-1 and move to within touching distance of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 quarter-finals. 

Perth Glory striker Nicholas D'Agostino was on hand to score either side of half-time as Australia followed up their opening day draw against Iraq with a priceless three-point haul that has moved them to the top of the Group A standings.

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Having seen Australia go behind to Anon Amornlerdsak’s 24th minute opener at an atmospheric Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Arnold was clearly delighted by the way his charges reacted to the challenge posed by the host nation.

“I think we showed great character as a team after going 1-0 down,” declared the former Sydney FC boss while thanking the Thai fans who held aloft a banner in support of those affected by the ongoing Australian bush fires.

“Their opening goal knocked our confidence for 10 minutes or so, but I thought after that, and especially in the second half, we played very well, controlled the game much better and could have actually won by more in the end.

“You have to understand that nine players have come from clubs in Europe, the other 14 have come from different A-League clubs."

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group A: Australia 2-1 Thailand

"We have built an atmosphere of mateship, of working for each other and obviously being proud to play for Australia. The message to the players, and our game plan for every match, is to believe in yourselves and to go out and win every game.”

With Australia now needing only a point from Tuesday’s match against Bahrain to progress, Arnold believes there is yet more to come from the Olyroos.

“We only had 10 days and one game to prepare, and it’s very hard to put a team together and then expect it to work straightaway but I can see us growing,” he said.

“In our [pre-tournament] friendly with Korea Republic we did well in patches, against Iraq we did well in patches and against Thailand we did well in the second half. There is certainly a lot to build on going forward.”

Meanwhile, Thailand coach Akira Nishino has attributed his side’s defeat to their inability to cope with Australia’s physicality.

“We challenged well and the players did the very best they could,” explained the Japanese tactician.

“It was a physical game and we were playing a very powerful Australian side. We were always aware that there was a physical difference between ourselves and Australia. As a result, we tried to negate this with our speed and in the first half we did that well."

“In the second half we weren’t as sharp in the final third and as you could see we failed to get behind the Australian defence or cope with their physicality.”

The result left Thailand occupying second spot in the standings, but a point from their encounter with Iraq on Matchday Three would also be enough for them to advance.

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