The Socceroos might be seven goals to the good after one World Cup outing, but winger Craig Goodwin is demanding no let-up as Australia face a potentially emotion-laden clash with Palestine early on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
Though the ongoing conflict around Gaza means the game has been moved to neutral territory in Kuwait, Goodwin predicted a challenging atmosphere – and said the Australian squad had focused on one word to carry through the campaign.
The theme will be “ruthlessness”, with the team aware that the seven goals scored against Bangladesh last Thursday in Melbourne could have been more – possibly double figures, according to coach Graham Arnold.
Goodwin hopes the 7-0 win will have caused reverberations elsewhere in the group, at the start of a campaign he believes should deliver safe passage to the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
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“One of the real messages surrounding us has been the ruthlessness that we want to have coming into these fixtures, especially in putting away the chances that we have and really trying to take that next step in becoming a team that’s competing against some of the best in the world, and trying to become one of the best in the world,” said Goodwin.
“We definitely want to make a statement within every game that we play and really have that ruthlessness in front of goal.
“A lot of us are well equipped with experiencing these kind of campaigns and the atmosphere that we’ll have in a few nights’ time.
“It’ll be very hostile but it doesn’t change our game plan and our mentality, or the way that we want to play. “We believe that we should be qualifying for this World Cup directly and it’s another step towards that, putting in a really good performance and having that ruthlessness.
“It’s about putting those chances away and really making the most of everything that we create. But I also do think that this game will be very different to what we experienced with Bangladesh.
“I think it will be a lot more physical and there’ll be a lot more fight coming from the opposition in this match.”
The Socceroos are well aware of the context around the game, given the increasing numbers of casualties from Israel’s war with the Palestinian group Hamas centred on Gaza.
The Palestinian team haven’t won in five games and have scored only one goal in that time, including a 0-0 draw with Lebanon in their opening World Cup qualifier held in the UAE. Goodwin acknowledged the emotional complexities of the coming game for the Socceroos’ opponents.
“We’re very understanding of the scenario and what’s transpiring,” he said. “But I think the biggest respect that we can give to them is to take it as every other match and to have the same mentality.
“Obviously it’s tragic with everything that’s happened. But at the same time, it’s a World Cup qualifier and we have to go into this game looking to win and put in a performance.
“The best thing about football and sport at times is that it can be an outlet for people to try to get their minds off things that are happening outside in the world.
“I hope that this game can be an outlet for those people and hopefully bring some joy in a different aspect. But for us, we have to show them the respect by taking it as we would any other game.”