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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Socceroos built for Asian Cup success with or without Aaron Mooy

Socceroos defender Rhyan Grant insists the side will travel to the UAE for next month's Asian Cup certain they have both the players and game plan to win back-to-back continental titles.

Coach Graham Arnold's planning has been clouded by injury concerns over a number of key creative players, with exciting young prospect Daniel Arzani ruled out after picking up the serious knee injury that abruptly ended his first season in Europe with Celtic.
Midfield pivots Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic have been named in the official 23-man squad, despite the former being ruled out for "six to eight weeks" by his Premier League club Huddersfield Town after picking up a knock playing against Arsenal last week.
That prognosis would see him miss the early stages of the competition at least — though Arnold has dispatched an independent medical expert to Yorkshire who will report back at the end of this week with their assessment of Mooy's fitness.
Rogic is set to return for Celtic over the Christmas period, with possible surgery to an ongoing knee complaint put off until the end of the season.
Regardless of the pair's state of health, however, Grant believes there is enough talent within the squad to cover should they be required, pointing to the success of Massimo Luongo — instrumental in securing ultimate victory in 2015 — despite being a relative unknown going into that competition.
"It's never good news for the boys to go down injured," Grant said. "Especially with Daniel, who had a very serious injury just as he was starting to kick off.
Arnold has spent his first six months in charge casting his eye over as many players a possible either in training camps or in friendlies, looking to build depth as well as identify the players best suited to his high-energy counterattacking style.
Grant falls neatly into that. Having worked with Arnold during a successful spell at Sydney FC, the right back's energy up and down the flanks is well known to the national team manager.
"His record speaks for itself," said Grant of his former — and now current — boss.
"At Sydney he was always a very positive coach. A good man manager, who knows how to talk with players and take them under his wing and get the best out of them.
"He wants to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves but working hard.
"I had probably my best ever season under him. [And] it definitely suits my game the way Arnie wants to play — or at least I'm hoping he thinks that.
"I learnt my trade from him, so if it clicks again hopefully we can work together going in to the future. "
That future begins now, of course.
The Socceroos have just a single warm-up match, against former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek's Oman in Dubai on December 30.
After that they open their Asian Cup campaign against Jordan on January 6, before further group fixtures against Palestine and Syria.