Graham Arnold has sent a defiant message to his critics after the Socceroos' brilliant 1-0 victory over Tunisia at the FIFA World Cup on Saturday night. The Socceroos coach copped it on social media and in the press after Australia's 4-1 thrashing at the hands of France in their tournament opener.
However Arnold has made them eat humble pie after steering the Socceroos to just their third win at the World Cup finals of all time. Mitch Duke's header in the 23rd minute proved to be the winning goal, putting Australia on the cusp of advancing to the knockout stages of the World Cup for just the second time.
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A win or draw against Denmark will see the Socceroos finish second in their group and join the famous 2006 side in advancing to the knockout stage. In a staggering piece of history, Arnold is now the first Australian-born coach to lead the Socceroos to a World Cup victory.
And the 59-year-old went whack when asked about the criticism he has received during his tenure. "Who cares? They've never coached," he told reporters on Saturday night.
"I haven't seen who is critical. But I think some of them have never even been to a World Cup. So I don't listen to them. They have no effect on my life."
Arnold stressed that Australia's campaign in Qatar isn't about him. Instead it's about the players who have contributed on and off the filed just to get them to the World Cup.
"It's a moment they'll remember for the rest of their lives," he said after the 1-0 victory. "I just want them to enjoy. That is what I said to the boys before the game: let's put a smile on the nation's face.
"There's one or two teams that bring the nation together and that's the Socceroos and the Matildas. When the Socceroos play at the World Cups, AFL fans, rugby league fans, they will become football fans.
"I can imagine the celebrations going on back home ... there will be a few hangovers in the morning. I won't have one."
Arnold said he didn't want to see any celebrations from his players. He stressed that the job isn't done yet, with a loss to Denmark set to send them home.
"When I got the boys in a circle after the game, I told them: 'I'm very proud but we have achieved nothing at the moment'," he said. "We can talk after about a win that hasn't been done for 12 years, but we're here to go as far as we can go.
"That one game is done and I don't want any notion from the players. I don't want them sitting up all night looking at social media and all that stuff. It's about sleeping well, recovering well and getting the mindset ready for Denmark."
Graham was praised on social media in the wake of the hatred he has copped. He also won over fans with a brilliant act for Martin Boyle, putting him in the centre of a post-match huddle after he was ruled out of the World Cup just days before it kicked off.
Socceroos on cusp of advancing to World Cup knockouts
The Australians meet the Danes on Wednesday at 1800 local time (Thursday 0200 AEDT). A win or draw will be enough to send the Socceroos into the knockout stages for just the second time in Cup history.
Following France's 2-1 win over Denmark later on Saturday, the French are now on six points to top the group and stamp their ticket to the knockouts. Australia are currently second on three points, with Denmark and Tunisia on one apiece.
"We are by no means satisfied with where we're at," said skipper Mat Ryan, who became just the third Socceroo after Mark Viduka (2006) and Lucas Neill (2010) to captain Australia to a win at the World Cup. "It's a great feat what we have done but we're hungry for more."
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