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'I'm over it': Arnie doubles down on A-League frustration

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27th January, 2024
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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says he’s not over the A-League Men – just the shortcomings in its season length that have bothered him throughout his tenure.

After Australia’s hard-fought 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan at the Asian Cup in Qatar, Arnold praised the opposition’s players, who largely play domestically, raising some eyebrows in the process.

“You can see a lot of Uzbekistan players play in Uzbekistan and play in their local league, where we have four players that play in our local league back in Australia,” Arnold said in his post-match press conference.

“I’ve been talking about our domestic league for a long, long time and I’m not bothered with it anymore.”

He clarified those comments on Friday.

Arnold has consistently lamented the ALM’s 26-game season, which is shorter than most domestic leagues elsewhere, and its late start, throughout his tenure.

Both factors limit the opportunities for locally-based players to press their cases for selection.

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“I’ve been saying for four years around the A-League we need to start the competition earlier to get in line with the international windows because I can’t pick players September, October, November – and we don’t play enough football,” Arnold told AAP.

“That’s what I meant by it.

“I’ll be going home watching it every week like I normally do and watching the players but I know that after this I’ve pretty much got one window where I can pick everyone from the A-League: March.

Graham Arnold.

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

“And then June we have two games and I can’t pick players who don’t make the semi-finals. 

“Again, you just wish there could be a really good sit down and have a chat about why do we have to have an NRL model or AFL model in football when all around the world it’s based on doing what’s right for national teams.

“And I’ve been saying that for four years – so I am over it. That’s all I meant by my comments. I’m not over the A-League in any other way.” 

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A lack of communication from the leagues, in Arnold’s eyes, hasn’t helped.

But the Socceroos boss insisted he wanted to now focus on Australia’s campaign in Qatar, which continues with Sunday’s round-of-16 clash with Indonesia.

“I’m over it – but at the same time, there’s been no response in terms of the conversation,” he said.

“I just need to focus on what I’m doing. I’m here to focus on the job I’ve got at hand here.”

© AAP

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