Arnie fo­cus­ing Soc­ceroos on Asian Cup goal

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - ED JACK­SON

Dubai, cen­tre-back Mi­los De­genek has com­pleted a big-money move from Ser­bian club Red Star Bel­grade to Saudi Ara­bian pow­er­house Al Hi­lal.

Trans­fer talk is also sur­round­ing striker Jamie Ma­claren, who’s been linked to an A-League re­turn with Mel­bourne City, while left-back Alex Gers­bach is re­port­edly be­ing sought out by Dutch Ere­di­visie side NAC Breda.

“It’s a new one, that’s for sure,” Ar- AUS­TRALIAN coach Gra­ham Arnold ad­mits keep­ing his play­ers’ minds fo­cused on the Asian Cup is tough amid foot­ball’s Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

The Soc­ceroos head into their fi­nal Group B clash against Syria in Al Ain with their fate still un­de­cided, de­spite an im­pres­sive 3-0 win over Pales­tine on Fri­day.

Aus­tralia would seal sec­ond spot in the group and safe pas­sage to the last 16 with a win or a draw against Syria early to­mor­row morn­ing AEST.

But a de­feat would mean group win­ners Jor­dan must de­feat the Pales­tini­ans to keep the Aussie’s ti­tle de­fence alive.

Since the vic­tory over Pales­tine in nold said of the chal­lenge of com­pet­ing in a tour­na­ment dur­ing the Jan­uary win­dow.

“Keep­ing them fo­cused on their job and keep­ing them fo­cused on what we’re do­ing while they’re get­ting agents call­ing them with of­fers. Some are get­ting of­fers with crazy money. At the same time, I’m fully aware of what’s go­ing on so I can talk to the play­ers about it and re­move it from their minds while they’re rep­re­sent­ing us.”

Arnold be­lieves men­tal­ity will be the key against a fired-up Syr­ian team, who sacked for­mer Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange last week after a 2-0 loss to Jor­dan left them with one point and no goals from their two group matches in the UAE.

Aus­tralia will be forced into one change at least with de­fender Trent Sains­bury sus­pended fol­low­ing a sec­ond book­ing of the tour­na­ment against Pales­tine.

Cap­tain Mark Mil­li­gan shift­ing to de­fence from mid­field and Mas­simo Luongo re­turn­ing to the start­ing lineup looks the most likely so­lu­tion to Sains­bury’s ab­sence, es­pe­cially with the 33-year-old Mil­li­gan spend­ing most of Sun­day’s tac­ti­cal drills in Al Ain along­side De­genek.

An­drew Nab­bout has re­cov­ered from a groin strain and is push­ing for se­lec­tion but Arnold ap­pears set to con­tinue with the three-pronged strike force of Awer Ma­bil, Ma­claren and Chris Ikono­midis, which per­formed so well against Pales­tine.

Arnold says Stange’s sack­ing won’t change his ap­proach to the match, given new coach Fajr Ibrahim has had less than a week in charge.

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