Awer Mabil with that too-familiar reaction after missing a shot. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Awer Mabil with that too-familiar reaction after missing a shot. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Arnold targets Socceroos’ final ingredient

GRAHAM Arnold calls it the "final ingredient", and his players can expect intensive tuition over the next few months in the most important football art of all - scoring goals.

Starting on Tuesday night against Lebanon, Arnold wants hard evidence that hours of attacking work on the training ground is starting to bear fruit.

But as his players board long flights back to their clubs afterwards, they will have plenty of viewing matter to pass the time.

With the Asian Cup little more than six weeks away, those forwards hoping for a leading role there will have homework, and plenty of it.

Using the an app using the HUDL game-review software, every player will get a detailed, clip-by-clip breakdown of their performances in tonight's game and on the training ground, with specific areas to work on at their clubs.

It's a practice Arnold and his assistant Rene Meulensteen have begun with all the national teams, given the limited time they have in camp.

The Olyroos who assembled at the AIS in September had to prepare a list of the things they would take away afterwards to work on.


Tim Cahill after a missed chance.
Tim Cahill after a missed chance.

But different methods of converting chances will be a key focus for the Socceroos, and Meulensteen has runs on the board in this regard, having spent hour upon hour working with Cristiano Ronaldo on his finishing some 11 years ago.

That included colour-coded techniques to know instinctively the best place to put a shot or header to maximise the chances of scoring - and above all it takes hours of repetition.

"Goalscoring becomes a habit," Arnold said. "It's not only putting the ball in the back of the net but having the confidence and the belief to score goals.

"It's something that becomes natural for a player. You go through periods where if you visualise scoring goals in the game then it will happen. If you just think it's going to happen, and don't practice, then it doesn't happen.

"The main thing after this game is that all the strikers and the wide players, they practice crosses, practice delivery where they can at their clubs. We don't get the time here in the national team camps. They need to practice what becomes natural.

"We will set programs for the players when they go back to clubland. We can't control what they do at the clubs but (we want them) to work on finishing practice."

Roos attackers need more work to pick their spot. (Toby Zerna)
Roos attackers need more work to pick their spot. (Toby Zerna)

First, though, comes Tuesday night's friendly with Lebanon; if the Asian Cup is the team's HSC, this game is the final trial.

"That final ingredient is scoring goals," Arnold said. "The combination play and movement in and around the box is something they probably haven't had before in the group as a team.

"That's all about rhythm, getting to know each other in such tight areas with the forward runs. But also knowing each other and what they're going to do with the combination play in and around the box with the surprise element that we have been working on."