Socceroos coach’s desperate plea to NSW government

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has urged the NSW government to allow fans to attend Australia’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Sydney.

After the Socceroos’ 11-game winning streak came to an end last night against Japan, Australia’s bid for a fifth-straight World Cup appearance will get tougher when they face unbeaten Saudi Arabia on November 11.

While no fixture has been locked in, it’s understood Football Australia is hoping the match can be played back home in Sydney.

Last night’s match in Saitama was the first time Japan played in front of home fans and after the Samurai Blue ended its form slump with a win against the Socceroos, Arnold stressed how important having a crowd can be.

“The crowd had a big part to do with that. I have watched Japan play the last three games without a crowd, and their energy was nowhere near what it was tonight,” Arnold said after the game.

“I just really am reaching out to the NSW government and really appealing to them to help us on this journey on our World Cup pathway.

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“I haven’t been home for six months, but now that NSW have vaccinated 80 per cent plus, we are still four weeks away from this game, (I really hope) that they help us by allowing fans into the stadium.

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“We have seen (the difference it makes) in the UK and around the world where it is 80 per cent vaccinated and everyone has got full crowds again.”

As it stands, Australia sits in second spot on Group B, with six more games to go.

Australia must finish either first or second in Group B to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

A third-place finish would send the Socceroos into a dreaded play-off with the nation that finishes third in Group A.

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