The Socceroos are determined to remain focused on their football as they prepare to face Palestine in a World Cup qualifier set against the backdrop of conflict in the Middle East.
After thrashing Bangladesh 7-0 at Melbourne’s AAMI Park in their opening qualifying match on Thursday night to take early control of Group I, Australia will fly directly to Kuwait on Saturday for Tuesday’s game.
Lebanon and Palestine drew 0-0 in the other group match on Thursday to ensure Australia are already two points ahead at the top of a pool which has been thrown into disarray by the escalation in violence in the region.
Australia’s game against Palestine was originally going to be held in the West Bank but was ultimately relocated to Kuwait.
“It’s horrific what’s going on over there at the moment,” coach Graham Arnold said.
“But I don’t think we have any control over that.
“What we do have control over is our performance and playing against Palestine and going out and getting the job done for Australia.
“We’re very sympathetic for everyone with what’s going on.
“But again, it’s a game of football and that brings a lot of joy to everybody.”
Defender Harry Souttar added: “We’ve got to be professional.
“Obviously, we know kind of what’s going on for both sides. It’s horrendous.
“I’m not going to stand here and give a political view but all I can say is we will be going into that focusing on purely the game and nothing else.
“We know that Palestine are going to be right up for it. We know that they’re going to be playing for a lot more than just football.
“But we’re there to get a result and get a job done. We’ll be professional and be going for the win.”
The Socceroos will have an additional rest day in Melbourne on Friday.
“FA’s been fantastic and supportive and everything,” Arnold said.
“We’re getting a chartered flight which will chop off six hours of travel by being able to go directly from Melbourne to Kuwait instead of having to stop over in Doha or the UAE.
“Instead of rushing tomorrow morning over to the Middle East, after the game, the boys tomorrow, they’ll have a day off here and catch up with family and friends.
“Then the next morning we’ll be on the plane.
“So it gives them two good nights’ sleep instead of just one.”
Arnold flagged changes to his starting line-up.
He expected mainstays Jackson Irvine, Mitch Duke and Craig Goodwin to be fresh after being taken off against Bangladesh.
Martin Boyle, who skipped the trip to Melbourne with knee swelling, will also be available.
“We’ll be ready to get across there and get the job done,” Arnold said.