“It’s obviously very different to the home games,” Harry Souttar said as he detailed the challenge of playing away in Asia following the Socceroos’ hard-fought 1-0 win over Palestine in FIFA Men’s World Cup qualifying.
Souttar’s goal in the 18th minute settled the AFC clash on matchday two in Kuwait, where the match took place on neutral territory due to ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel.
The Socceroos made it two wins from two games to start the road to the 2026 World Cup, but it was far from straightforward for Australia, who crushed Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne last week.
SOUTTAR SCORES AGAIN: Socceroos scrap their way to another World Cup qualifying win
Graham Arnold’s side struggled for any fluency in a physical encounter against Palestine, who were willed on by a noisy crowd on a bumpy pitch but they did get the goal that mattered – Souttar heading home Craig Goodwin’s corner in the opening half.
“Great feeling to be on the scoresheet again. Never take it for granted,” Souttar told Network 10 after scoring his 10th international goal in 22 matches. “Scoring for your country is something really special. It’s just getting sweeter and sweeter.
“Obviously a win tonight. I don’t think we were best pleased without performance. I think we can play a lot, a lot better.
“But it’s a great lesson for us as a team. Couple of the new guys, coming into the squad playing games in Asia, this is what you’re going to face.
“I don’t want to make sure excuses but it’s obviously very different to the home games. If you want to go through, these are the games you have to win.
“We stood up to the task and won the game but we know as a group we can play a whole lot better.”
It has been a successful international window for Souttar, who has struggled for game time at EFL Championship leaders Leicester City this season.
He has only made two appearances, one in the league and another in the EFL Cup as the Australian defender was linked with a move away before the transfer window closed in September.
“Just so happy to be back on the grass and playing. Getting that hunger and winning feeling back, there’s nothing like it,” Souttar said, having also scored against Bangladesh.
Before his post-match interview wrapped up, Souttar had a special message for a member of his family.
“I know my girlfriend’s granny is in hospital at the moment,” he said. “She’s had a really tough time. I just want to say hopefully you get better soon June and I’m thinking about you.”
Socceroos boss Arnold made a couple of changes to his starting XI for the showdown with Palestine.
Kye Rowles replaced Cameron Burgess as Souttar’s centre-back partner, while Ryan Strain and Aziz Behich started at full-back at the expense of Jordy Bos and Lewis Miller.
The only other change saw Martin Boyle return to the line-up having missed the Bangladesh fixture in Melbourne, with Brandon Borrello dropping to the bench.
“It’s exactly what I predicted and thought that Palestine were going to come out with that time of energy, that type of work rate and fight,” Arnold told Network 10.
“You have to give full credit to Palestine.
“Probably we didn’t play our best but the most important thing was three points.”
Arnold added: “That game was really a fight for second-ball game.
“They had four up front, a couple of big boys. They smashed it long and were getting ready for the second ball.
“Obviously we can do better but again, I’m very proud of the boys after everything off the field we’ve gone through getting this game planned late.
“They fact we got it done is the main thing.”