Soccer-'Great feat': Arnold hails Australia for qualifying record
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Graham Arnold praised the Socceroos for the "great feat" of claiming a record 11th successive win in World Cup qualifying with victory over Oman but was in no mood to dwell on the achievement before next week's Japan clash.
Australia defeated Branko Ivankovic's team 3-1 in Doha, setting a record for consecutive victories in the same qualifying campaign which they had shared with Germany, Spain and Mexico.
Arnold's side have set the record while being forced to play away from home since October 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Australia.
"It's probably something we'll reflect on in the future, of what a great feat it's been, especially playing 10 out of 11 games away from home," Arnold said.
"But for me it's already all about going to Japan and getting ready for Japan in Japan and making it 12 in a row."
Second half goals from Martin Boyle and Mitchell Duke ensured Australia maintained their perfect qualifying record after Oman's Rabia Al Mandhar had cancelled out Awer Mabil's ninth-minute goal.
Australia remain top of Group B in the third phase of Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia on goal difference, with Japan third six points behind after losing to the Saudis in Jeddah.
Australia meet Japan at Saitama Stadium on Tuesday.
Arnold was frustrated at times with his team in the first half in Doha as they squandered possession and allowed Oman to slice through their defence on the counter-attack.
"We got dragged into a bit of an erratic game at times but you know you've got to give credit to Oman, they threw a lot at us," he said.
"But once we got the boys in at halftime, calmed them down, we focused a lot more on keeping the ball, moving them sideways and made them chase the ball.
"Then I felt we took over the game."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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