Socceroos vs New Zealand, Guus Hiddink, Graham Arnold, Tony Vidmar, FIFA World Cup, Qatar, penalty shootout, press conference

Socceroos vs New Zealand, Guus Hiddink, Graham Arnold, Tony Vidmar, FIFA World Cup, Qatar, penalty shootout, press conference

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has opened up on the hilarious moment Guus Hiddink failed to recognise one of his penalty heroes in Australia’s famous 2005 shootout victory over Uruguay to book a spot at the 2006 World Cup.

Arnold was Hiddink’s assistant 16 years ago when the legendary Dutch mentor was in charge of the Socceroos at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and was full of praise for the “beautiful job” his pupil performed in guiding the Socceroos to Qatar.

Watch the world’s best footballers every week with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. LIVE coverage from Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Carabao Cup, EFL & SPFL. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

The pair have reunited for the first of the Socceroos’ two friendlies against New Zealand which takes place at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night, with Hiddink to sit on the bench alongside Arnold and his assistants.

One of Arnold’s right-hand men on the sidelines is Tony Vidmar, who converted one of the penalties in that famous shootout in 2005.

Despite playing a major role in creating history, Arnold revealed Hiddink was left clueless when he re-acquainted himself with the former Socceroos defender.

“He didn’t recognise Tony Vidmar, even though he kicked the penalty with his wrong foot,” Arnold said at a press conference in Brisbane.

Hiddink refused to be drawn into regaling tales from that special night at Stadium Australia or deny he had forgotten who Vidmar was, but he was delighted that the defender put his hand up and converted when it mattered most.

“I don’t like to talk too much about the olden days because then you get that it was ‘beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,’ and it’s not always like that,” Hiddink said.

“So I don’t want to go too much back into the past because the present is more important. But when I saw Tony, I said ‘how could Arnie or me, as the ultimate boss, make the decision to have a penalty awarded to you with your feet like this.’

“But he came to the penalty spot, and bam, no problem. That’s when central defenders, I had experienced in my clubs and other federations as well, when you ask who likes to take penalties in all the circumstances, the first who are reacting are central defenders. They have more confidence than the coach had at that time.

Under Hiddink, the Socceroos not only qualified for a World Cup for the first time in 32 years, they also reached the knockout stages before being eliminated by eventual champions Italy.

Since then, the Socceroos haven’t missed a World Cup, but have battled at times under Arnold in the past 18 months in a tough qualifying campaign affected by the ramifications of Covid-19.

However, Arnold’s man-management was superb, with the spirit he garnered in the squad evident as the Socceroos secured qualification for Qatar 2022 via a penalty shootout in the intercontinental playoff success Peru.

“I’m very proud of him, ” Hiddink said of Arnold.

“When I started here, I knew many players, but I needed a lot of information from him (Arnold) as well, which I got, and then you can work with that.

“If you see how he’s made it (over) the years and with the Olympic team (as well) … I respect him very much.”

It’s admiration that’s reciprocated, with Arnold delighed Hiddink answered his call to be part of his staff for at least part of the two-match series against New Zealand in the absence of Socceroos assistant coach Rene Meulensteen, who will instead scout two of Australia’s World Cup opponents – France and Denmark – during this week FIFA international window.

“We need our best for the World Cup,” Arnold said.

“We need the fittest, we need the freshest and we need the best.

“I know with Guus’ eye of what he has on talent, but also on the way he speaks to players that this camp can be a real bonus for that.

“I do know how much he loved coaching the Socceroos, because we talk about it so much.”

Hiddink said he was “curious” to find out from Arnold as much as he could about the Socceroos’ 31-man squad that has assembled in Brisbane this week.

“(Arnold) did a beautiful job to qualify and now he’s depending a bit on their shape and how they practice with clubs,” he said.

“But they seem to be very fit and fresh – fit physically and the freshness in their mind. There is no doubt with the Australians, they are always fresh in their minds. They fight.”

Arnold was yet to settle on his line-up for Thursday night’s match, which will celebrate the Socceroos’ 100-year anniversary.

However, he did reveal that “10 or 11 players” would be cut from the squad before the Socceroos left for Auckland for the second match of the series on Sunday.

“Those players will be upset because they want to play both games to have two chances but we’ve picked a bigger squad to see a plan B or C (for the World Cup),” Arnold said.

About the Author: Mofazzal Hossen

You May Also Like