Australia vs Peru World Cup 2022: Graham Arnold survives another day as Socceroos coach
Few Australians were more relieved than Graham Arnold as the Socceroos qualified for their fifth consecutive World Cup on Tuesday morning.
The man described by fans as the ‘Scott Morrison of football’ has survived another day as Socceroos coach, proving his doubts wrong after the team’s heart-pounding win against Peru in a penalty shootout.
For months now, Arnold has been the scapegoat of Australian football as fans, commentators and legends of the game joined the bandwagon and clamored for him to be fired after the Socceroos had to qualify the hard way.
Arnold’s head was on the chopping block after Australia failed to qualify directly for this year’s World Cup in Qatar through the Asian group stage earlier this year.
Many speculated that the ax was looming for the former Socceroo as they questioned whether he should hold the lead for this month’s crucial play-offs in the Middle East.
Even during the final qualifier against Peru, frustrated fans wondered why Arnold didn’t look to his bench and make changes as the scores stuck to zero.
The under fire Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has survived another day in the top job
Graham Arnold is the Scott Morrison of football, not a proactive bone in his body! Game needs Tillio, D’Agastino or Maclaren NOW,” said one fan.
Another said: ‘I’m still not getting fresh legs. Whatever happens, Arnold still has no idea.’
Arnold made a huge change when he swapped goalkeeper Mat Ryan for substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to endure the penalty shootout to decide the match.
The bold move left many fans scratching their heads, and critics of the armchair felt the trick was pointless.
“Better or not, a minute of playing time before the shootout is not a good idea,” said one fan angrily.
Another said: ‘This is going to cost us the World Cup.’
A third joked: ‘Arnold must have booked a holiday during the World Cup.’
The daring tactic proved to be a masterstroke with Redmayne, who saw one of Peru’s shots hit the post and made a crucial save to take Australia’s place in the last 32.
The moment when Graham Arnold’s decision to swap goalkeepers for Peru’s penalty shootout is paying off as Andrew Redmayne makes the crucial save from Peruvian player Valera’s shot
Graham Arnold was full of emotion as he hugged his players after the heartbreaking win
The win extends Arnold’s time at the helm beyond Socceroos’ World Cup campaign in Qatar later this year.
Arnold struggled to contain his emotions during his first post-match interview, adding that his team played 16 of their 20 World Cup qualifiers on the road.
“I’m just… so proud of the players, you know?” he told Channel 10.
“Nobody knows what those guys went through to get here.
“It’s been so hard, the whole campaign, and the way they got stuck in it and committed to it, unbelievable.”
“They’ve been through so much. It’s been tough, but we made it!’
When asked about his critics, he put everything into perspective.
“The doubters don’t bother me, it’s these guys I care about, the game I care about and I do it for my family,” Arnold said.
“I want to dedicate this one to my brother, Colin.
“When my parents died when I was young, I didn’t really have anyone to support. My older brother has been all my life, and he’s number one.”
The Socceroos had to do it the hard way to qualify for their fifth consecutive World Cup
Arnold was hailed as a hero and genius after the match, while others said he earned an apology after proving his doubters wrong.
Former NSL star and commentator Andy Harper questioned whether Arnold was the right man for the job after Japan ended hopes for direct qualification from the Socceroos in March.
He launched in a scathing strike by Arnold and Football Australia, citing poor results against Oman, China and Saudi Arabia earlier in the group stage,
“The problem with this team and the extent to which Graham Arnold may or may not have this problem under control is those three draws against teams that we should have beaten,” Harper said.
“Who’s in charge of this terrible week? I can’t remember a more chaotic week with the Socceroos.
‘Let’s not just stop at Graham Arnold, what about looking for body cavities here?
“This is an important item, Australia versus Japan, they are our biggest rivals… and we stumble into this match. So many empty seats here, who is responsible for that?
“And it’s very, very convenient to pour all this at Graham Arnold’s feet, and I think he’s responsible for some football issues.
‘Those three draws have killed the campaign. Am I too strict on this?’
The Socceroos’ win against Peru to qualify for Qatar may have saved Graham Arnold’s job as a coach
Three months later, the tables have turned with nothing but praise for Arnold.
“There was so much pressure on the coach,” Harper said after the game on Tuesday.
‘Questions from the coach. A line of people waiting to bring a baseball bat to the coach. And Redmayne saves the team, the campaign and now Australia is on their way to a fifth consecutive World Cup.
“A huge credit to Graham Arnold. What he has endured for years as a coach to get to this point, what a crowning achievement for him.
“People have opinions about this and that on the other side, but when you come to the end of a penalty shootout, if they didn’t win they would be the other side of the coin, but the fact of the matter has the team triumphed under him, he led the team to the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world, and massive congratulations.’
Graham Arnold’s controversial tactic to sign replacement goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne for the penalty shootout has paid off