Socceroos coach Graham Arnold wants his team to make life difficult for Saudi Arabia when the sides meet in a crunch World Cup qualifier in Sydney on Thursday.
The Socceroos’ group is delicately poised with the Saudis three points ahead of Australia at the top of the table and already eyeing off automatic qualification to the 2022 World Cup in neighbouring Qatar.
The Saudis have enjoyed the benefit of playing all but one of their last eight qualifiers on home soil and have emerged victorious each time.
Historically, though, they don’t travel well and their sole victory against the Socceroos came in Riyadh almost 24 years ago.
Should Australia lose they would fall back into a chasing pack that includes Japan and Oman.
A win, however, would allow Arnold’s men, who play their first game on home soil in 763 days, to leapfrog the Saudis into first spot before facing China next week in the UAE.
“We know the Saudis are on a good run and they’ve played a lot of games at home in that run,” Arnold said.
“I expect our mentality to be one of getting in their faces and making sure we’re on the front foot right from the start and not giving them any time to play.
“It will be great to have our 12th man (fans) here but the focus is on our performance and making sure the gameplan is right.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to get the principles in place to play right over the last few years.
“It’s about one game at a time and (getting) the three points tomorrow night.”
Wednesday night’s training session will be Arnold’s only chance to see his entire squad up close and personal before Thursday’s fixture with players arriving in dribs and drabs from across the world over the last few days.
The 58-year-old claims to have a clear image of how his side, who will be without Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Adam Taggart, will line up.
Ajdin Hrustic is expected to play after reportedly struggling with an injury in club football in Germany.
“He’s 100 per cent, otherwise he wouldn’t have come,” Arnold said.
“I expect him to show the Australian fans what he’s about. He’s in great shape, but in the conversations I’ve had with him he’s ready to go.
“Not having those players is seen in a lot of ways as a disadvantage, but I don’t believe that.
“We haven’t been able to choose Mathew (Leckie) for the last few camps.
“We’ve got depth to cover all those positions against a Saudi team that’s been fortunate enough to play most of their games at home.
“It’s great to be able to play in our country against Saudi and I expect a performance from them.”