Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Aussie coach pans European stars


Leading Socceroo players are at odds with coach Graham Arnold's claims that some of them don't have their heart in being at the Asian Cup.

The Aussies crashed to a self-inflicted 3-1 defeat to Iraq on Friday to leave them needing to beat Thailand tomorrow and relying on a favorable result in the simultaneous Oman-Iraq game to go through to the quarter-finals.

Arnold startled the Australian camp when he claimed that some of his European stars found it too hard and their attitude wasn't right to carry the Socceroos through.

"Looking at that game, I would say some players don't want to be here," Arnold said. "Some of them, maybe it is too hard. Maybe the conditions are too hot. The fact that the stadiums aren't full."

"They can use heat and humidity as an excuse, but attitude comes a long way to it," he said. "You look at how they played ... some players, I'm questioning if they want to be out there."

There was an indignant reaction from some of the Australians spoken to after the inglorious defeat, where three individual mistakes aided Iraq's victory.

Skipper Mark Viduka, who wavered before committing himself to play at Australia's first-ever Asian Cup tournament, told reporters: "Everybody here wants to be here, it's not a question of that. People have cut short their holidays to be here and it means a lot to them. I don't think it's got to do with effort at all."

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who admitted it was his mistake for Nashat Akram's opening goal from a free kick, put it down to Arnold's angry mood straight after the game.

"I don't think so. I think it's more a heat of the moment comment than anything else," Schwarzer said. "Every player wanted to be here and everyone wants to represent their country."

Reports suggest that Arnold may have cut adrift a proportion of his squad who know they have lost his confidence.

He has foreshadowed team changes for tomorrow's make-or-break game with Thailand.

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