Socceroos locked in controversial rematch against world champs Argentina in Beijing – after South Americans coach admits Aussies face their toughest World Cup challenge
- Coach Arnold wants matches against the best countries
- The Beijing game is upsetting the Australian Uyghur community
- The appearance fee in Argentina is worth more than $7million
The Socceroos will face world champions Argentina in Beijing on June 15 as an important preparation for their Asian Cup tilt and World Cup qualifying.
The long-rumored friendly clash at the newly renovated Workers’ Stadium will go ahead, just over six months after Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in the World Cup round of 16 in Qatar, Football Australia confirmed on Monday.
‘To get a match against world champions Argentina reflects Australia’s standing within world football and the respect that the top nations have for both our senior national teams,’ said FA chief executive James Johnson in a statement.
The Socceroos also have a highly anticipated friendly match against England at Wembley Stadium in October.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are world No.1 in the latest FIFA rankings, with Australia at 29th.
The world’s best player Lionel Messi of Argentina (with the ball) runs over Socceroo Mitchell Duke in the teams’ clash at the World Cup in Qatar
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is desperate to get the match against Argentina, citing the importance of facing top opposition ahead of a new World Cup cycle.
‘It’s amazing. I’m getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it,’ Arnold told reporters earlier this month.
‘If this game goes out, it will be amazing to play against the world champions at the moment.
‘There’s no better way to test players than to put them against top opposition, because if you put them against lower opposition, well, you don’t learn much about the players.
Not everyone in Australia is happy about the prospect of the Socceroos playing Argentina in China next month (pictured, the world champions celebrate their opening goal in Qatar)
Craig Goodwin (pictured) forced Argentina’s own goal in the Round of 16 at the World Cup, with the Socceroos winning plenty of respect for taking the champions to the wire.
‘That’s why I like these tough games. I want to play against teams that will push us to the limit and we will push them to the limit.
‘Those types of games are important to our preparation and making us better.’
Earlier this month, the Australian-based Uyghur community expressed its opposition to the game being staged in China.
Alim Osman, the president of the Uyghur Association of Victoria, said sending the Socceroos to play an exhibition match with Argentina in Beijing was ‘another slap in the face to Uyghur Australians’.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold (pictured in black in Qatar last year) has revealed his Argentina counterpart told him Australia gave him Lionel Messi and co. their toughest game of the tournament
‘We strongly believe that doing business as usual with China is contributing to crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs,’ Osman said.
Argentina ended Australia’s golden run at the World Cup in Qatar with goals from Messi and Julian Alvarez, although Craig Goodwin forced a late Enzo Fernandez own goal to send the clash down to the wire.
Arnold said Argentina counterpart Lionel Scaloni told him at a recent FIFA coaches’ conference that the Socceroos had proved their toughest game at the World Cup.
The match, which kicks off at 8pm local time (10pm AEST) will be the Socceroos’ first since a pair of home friendlies against Ecuador in March.
News/Image Sources: Daily Mail