Graham Arnold.
Graham Arnold is unhappy the Socceroos had to train on rugby league fields for the Lebanon tie. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS
  • soccer

Arnold’s fear as ‘homeless’ Socceroos train on RL field

George Clarke March 20, 2024

Graham Arnold is calling for Australian football to get the funding it deserves after the Socceroos spent the build-up to their crunch World Cup qualifier with Lebanon training on rugby league fields. 

As he put his finishing touches to his squad for Thursday night’s clash at CommBank Stadium, Arnold went on the offensive, criticising the lack of government support for the sport in comparison to rival codes.

 The Socceroos, including Bruno Fornaroli, were forced to train on rugby league fields this week. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

At a time when politicians are at loggerheads over the plans for the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, Arnold was keen to underline football’s need for investment.

Unlike many other top nations preparing for international fixtures this week, Arnold’s side spent the build-up training on rugby league fields at the NSW Rugby League centre of excellence.

While Arnold was incredibly complimentary of the NSWRL for hosting the Socceroos, the Australian boss warned the nation risked being left behind. 

“It’s frustrating because of my passion for the game and the pathways … the government loves helping the NRL and the AFL building these fantastic facilities,” Arnold said. 

“If I’m right I think I read that the Canterbury Bulldogs are going to get one, but we can’t get anything?

“I have great gratitude to the NSWRL for letting us train on their pitch, even if we had rugby league posts behind the soccer posts.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time and I believe it’s something that’s crucial for the development of our game, something to inspire kids.

“Look at the Middle East and the way they’re improving, the boys fly all the way back from Europe where they have great training facilities in Europe … and we don’t have any.”

Plans for a Socceroos HQ that could host Football Australia’s offices have long been mooted for Sydney.

But Arnold said the federation was currently “homeless” despite the recent World Cup performances of both the men’s and women’s senior national teams. 

“I’ve been involved for 30 years, with all these different offices,” Arnold said. 

“We need something where we have a museum and be proud of what Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka did to inspire kids, to have a home.

“If you don’t have a home, how do you have a culture? We are homeless.” 

 The Socceroos go through their training drills ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Lebanon. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

Thursday’s fixture is Australia’s first time back in Sydney since a 3-1 friendly win over Ecuador.

Winger Craig Goodwin (virus) is unavailable which may force Jordy Bos to the left flank and move centreback Kye Rowles into the left fullback position.

It will be Australia’s first match on home soil since their Asian Cup exit in January when Arnold’s side was criticised for their lack of cutting edge against stubborn opposition.

World No.115 Lebanon are expected to sit deep and aim to nick a point, but Arnold is backing his charges to go full throttle. 

“I expect to see some really positive things in the final third with our one v one actions,” Arnold said.

“That’s important for me because I feel that middle third we are very good but in the final third, a lot of it is down to the individual.”