A World Cup of dreams: Aussie coach Arnold

Where most see a proverbial group of death, Graham Arnold sees a group of dreams.

The Socceroos' coach is unfazed about Australia's tough tasks at the World Cup in Qatar.

"Every group for Australia always has to be the group of death," Arnold told AAP.

"For me, it's a group of dreams or group of opportunity to show what we're made of."

Reigning world champions France. European semi-finalists Denmark. African dangers Tunisia.

All await Australia, who have advanced beyond the group stage at just one World Cup, in 2006, and won just two games in cup history.

"Every group is tough," Arnold said.

"But I lay awake at night thinking about 'how great is this, we are going to be playing against (French megastar Karim) Benzema and these players and these teams'.

"It's just so exciting. It's just such a wonderful opportunity for us, for the players, to make the nation proud but most of all to make themselves and their families so proud.

"They're the things that I am dreaming of."

The Socceroos scraped into the cup in Qatar, the first held in the Middle East, after what Arnold described as "the hardest qualifying campaign we have ever had".

Interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign spanned 1008 days - twice as long as usual.

Australia's border closures meant the Socceroos played only four of their 20 games on home soil.

Arnold twice caught COVID.

In January this year, he coached a qualifying game while isolating in a Melbourne hotel room.

In March, he was fined $25,000 by Football Australia (FA) for taking his dog for a walk in Sydney when, under then NSW laws, he should have been isolating.

Through the pandemic, Arnold met resistance from clubs to release Socceroos players for national duties.

And after becoming the first nation in history to win 11 consecutive cup qualifiers, the Socceroos slumped to finish third in their group, prompting FA hierarchy to reconsider Arnold's tenure.

Arnold was backed, his team pipped the UAE in an Asian confederation eliminator, then edged Peru on penalties in a play-off to secure Australia's fifth-consecutive cup berth.

Arnold said there were three silver linings to the rocky road to Qatar.

One, he was forced to use 45 players, affording greater understanding of the depth of talent at his disposal.

Two, the Socceroos played and won six games in Doha - five qualifiers and a friendly - leading to familiarity with the host city.

Three, the big picture of what qualifying does for the profile of the sport - and Football Australia is guaranteed $A14 million in prizemoney, rising to more than $20m should they progress to the round of 16.

"I was just so relieved ... for the sport in Australia," Arnold said.

"I know what it does for the game. I know how much money FIFA give to the FA to put into junior national teams and the sport of football - that was the most important important thing."

Now, in a pure sporting sense, Arnold wants more.

"In the past, obviously qualification has been a success," he said.

"But we have only ever won two games in the history of the World Cup, one in 2006 against Japan and one in 2010 against Serbia.

"So I am going to Qatar to win games.

"And to put a smile on everyone's faces in Australia because this tournament can help re-unite the country after everything that we have gone through with COVID.

"We have to come out like the old days of the boxing kangaroos, we're the boxing Socceroos.

"Australia is known for loving the fight, loving the battle, and the DNA of 'backs to the wall, come out fighting'.

"That is the type of stuff that Australia as a country is known for. And it's no different for this."