Kuwait City: Australia got the emphatic start they wanted for their Asian Qualifiers campaign as the Socceroos defeated Kuwait 3-0 in a Group B tie at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium on Tuesday.
Kuwait had opened their campaign with a 7-0 win over Nepal but a first half blitz saw Australia walk away with a comfortable win to kick off their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
It was Australia's first competitive match since their defence of the AFC Asian Cup title ended in the quarter-finals at UAE 2019 and head coach Graham Arnold was satisfied with his team's performance.
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“I thought the first half was excellent. We came out with all intention to be on the front foot. We pressed them very well, we worked them really well, we didn’t let them really have any chances, and obviously, the second half it was a bit less," said Arnold, who is seeking to guide Australia to their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup Finals.
With a number of players having retired from international duty following the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 and AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, Australia are a team in transition but Arnold was proud of the younger players in the Socceroos squad.
"The mentality of the boys was fantastic, but in these conditions you could see the fatigue kick in and I thought the three subs that came on made a big difference.”
“The energy that the young boys have brought into camp has been great. We had a number of inexperienced players out there that are gaining great experience here in the Middle East and it is a great start to the campaign.”
Victory, however, was secured by goals from national team stalwarts Mathew Leckie and Aaron Mooy.
Leckie, who scored a brace, said Australia had delivered despite the testing conditions.
“It is always tough qualification in Asia, especially away games. We had a good training camp (and) we were fortunate that we only had one game this camp, so we had a good week to prepare," said Leckie, who was captain for the night.
"The boys showed a good mentality today, a lot of concentration, those are the things you need playing in these conditions. It is very warm, so I think it comes down to the mental game. Three-nil away, it is never easy, but we got the job done.”
Mooy said he was already looking forward to Australia's next match, against Nepal in Canberra on October 10.
"It is always a good occasion when we get to play at home and I am sure the fans will come out (to Australia’s next match against Nepal in Canberra) and see us and support us. We are all looking forward to it,” said Mooy.
Australia will then play Chinese Taipei away five days later.
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