A-League Golden Boot Jamie Maclaren has been restored to the Socceroos line-up for Tuesday morning’s clash against Chinese Taipei, with coach Graham Arnold demanding a more ruthless Australian display.
Among the later arrivals in camp for the current block of 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait City, Melbourne City star Maclaren took no part in the Socceroos’ 3-0 win over Kuwait last Friday morning.
While Arnold was happy with the victory, he felt the scoreline should have been much bigger.
“We could have been up 6-0 after 39 minutes,” the Socceroos boss said.
“When you get those chances, I expect the boys to take those chances.
“It’s always about improvement and I expect improvement in every part of our play.”
Maclaren scored 25 goals in 24 A-League appearances this season, and is expected to have a field day against Group B minnows Chinese Taipei, who have no points from six matches.
In contrast, Australia has a perfect record of 15 points from five Group B matches, putting them in the box seat to reach the next stage of the Asian Football Confederation World Cup qualifiers.
The teams last met in October 2019, with the Socceroos recording a crushing 7-1 win.
Arnold also confirmed that defensive duo Trent Sainsbury and Harry Souttar, who both missed the win over Kuwait, would start on Tuesday morning.
However, attacking weapon Apostolos Giannou is still nursing a rib injury and will be sidelined for at least another match.
“We’re not going to throw anyone on the field that’s not 100 per cent fit,” Arnold said.
Sydney FC star Rhyan Grant, another of the later arrivals who didn’t play last Friday, is also hoping to play but has welcomed the competition Fran Karacic has provided for the Socceroos’ right-back role.
Croatia-born Karacic, who plays for Italian second division club Brescia, made his national team debut against Kuwait, and didn’t disappoint in the position usually occupied by Grant.
“He had an unreal game for his debut,” Grant said of Karacic, who qualifies to play for the Socceroos through his Australia-born father.
“Having competition for places is huge, and in this Socceroos squad this time around there are a lot of numbers, (and) it just goes to show how much depth there is in Australian football at the moment.
“Hopefully everyone gets a chance to show what they can do … and make it hard for ‘Arnie’ going forward.”
With Australia’s four matches in Kuwait City being played in a condensed period of less than two weeks, Grant is expected to get some game time against Chinese Taipei.
“I’m starting to feel really good and hopefully get to play a part in the next few games,” he said.
“We started off this campaign with a great win the other night, and we’re looking to build on that (with) another great performance and great win to put us in good stead going forward.”
Australia v Chinese Taipei
Jaber Al-Hamad Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Live: Fox Sports and Kayo Sports