WC qualification 'everything' for Arnold

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Less than three months ago it seemed inevitable even if the Socceroos reached this year's World Cup finals they'd be doing so without Graham Arnold.

Speculation was rife after a disastrous camp in March where Australia lost back-to-back matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia to miss out on automatic qualification that Arnold would be replaced by Football Australia (FA).

Not helping Arnold's cause was a breach of NSW self-isolation regulations which led to a $25,000 fine for the coach from FA just days before the Japan game in Sydney.

In the wake of a 1-0 loss to the Saudis in Jeddah, FA handed Arnold a reprieve and confirmed the 58-year-old would still be at the helm for the remainder of Australia's World Cup campaign.

The decision handed Arnold a second bite at guiding the Socceroos to a fifth straight World Cup, starting with a must-win play-off against the United Arab Emirates in Qatar on Tuesday (Wednesday 4am AEST).

Win that match and it will be on to an intercontinental clash on June 13 (June 14 AEST) against Peru for a spot in November's finals.

It's a chance Arnold is determined not to waste.

"It would mean everything," Arnold told AAP.

"I don't want anything more in life at this moment than to qualify for the World Cup for the players and for the nation.

"I've been involved in Australian football around the Socceroos for nearly 40 years.

"I debuted in 83-84 and I've been here pretty much since then, even if it's with the A-League.

"My passion has always been Australian football and I'd love nothing more (than qualifying)."

After a record-breaking 11-game winning run during a qualifying campaign that has straddled the global COVID-19 pandemic, Australia have won just one of their past seven qualifiers.

Being forced to isolate in the past two camps due to separate bouts of the virus have been a major factor in recent displays, limiting Arnold to overseeing training sessions via Zoom.

"I have to say it's been a tough year," he said.

"Vietnam I missed in January and then the Japan game I got in there at two o'clock in the afternoon.

"I hadn't coached the team at all. I hadn't seen the players face-to-face. It was just pretty much like 'how are we boys? Good luck and off you go'.

"The only way I can look at that is, it's a lesson. It's an experience of the past.

"I've had a chat to the boys and they've shown a lot of loyalty and sacrifices to be here today, where we are, and that's all in the past. It's all about now and the next 10 days."

A 2-1 friendly win over Jordan in Doha last week provided a much-needed boost of confidence, although there was the blow of star midfielder Tom Rogic's withdrawal due to personal reasons.

Even Arnold hasn't been told by Rogic what the issue is that has ruled him out but says he can only respect the 29-year-old's decision.

"He didn't want to so I've got to respect his privacy and those decisions ... it's a personal decision that Tomi's made at the end of the day and he's done for a reason," Arnold said.

"It's OK, that's the way it is and we've just got to move on and get players ready and make sure that we keep that energy high."

All that matters now for Arnold is justifying his reprieve and completing a job that began two and a half years ago.

"We've got some good individual quality and those boys have to go out there with a lot of belief that they can change the game with one action," he said.

"We're excited. We're looking forward to it."

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