December 6 – Australia coach Graham Arnold (pictured) has moaned about the scheduling of the Asian Cup because it clashes with European club commitments.
“If I was going to say anything about the AFC, they should really seriously look at when they do play the Asian Cup in January because, yes, it suits the Middle East nations,” said the Socceroos manager at a news conference.
He pointed to both South Korea and Japan which may experience problems in getting players released by European clubs too. Arnold said: “But I can imagine (Hajimi) Moriyasu in Japan and Juergen Klinsmann at South Korea are probably having the same issues we’re having with clubs at the moment because all of our boys are playing in Europe.”
Arnold, whose recent squad featured 19 Europe-based players, said that discussions with European clubs about player releases were ongoing.
It has been a recurrent feature of the international match calendar that the Asian Cup as well as the Africa Cup of Nations clashes with the European club calendar, and in particular the English Premier League. FIFA rules dictate that clubs must release players.
The Asian Cup will take place from January 10 to February 10 next year. It will mean a return for the 2015 Asian champions to Qatar where they reached the second round of the World Cup last year against the odds.
“Those memories can’t be repeated,” said Arnold. “If you go back to the same place … and it’s not set up exactly the same as it was at the World Cup, it ruins those great memories. So we’ll be staying at a different hotel … A beautiful hotel where obviously new memories, new experiences will come.”
Arnold backed his team to win the finals. At the last Asian Cup in 2019, the host nation, the United Arab Emirates, eliminated Australia 1-0 in the quarter-finals. Australia lost in the final in 2011 to Japan, but won the Asian Cup in 2015 in a tournament they hosted. They beat South Korea 2-1 after extra time.
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