Australia coach in jovial mood before opening World Cup game

The daunting prospect of having to face defending World Cup champion France in his team’s opening match certainly hasn’t affected Australia coach Graham Arnold’s sense of humor

ByJEROME PUGMIRE AP Sports Writer
November 21, 2022, 11:44 AM
Australia's head coach Graham Arnold adjusts his headphone during a press conference on the eve of the group D World Cup soccer match between France and Australia, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Australia's head coach Graham Arnold adjusts his headphone during a press conference on the eve of the group D World Cup soccer match between France and Australia, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
The Associated Press

DOHA, Qatar -- The daunting prospect of having to face defending World Cup champion France in his team's opening match certainly hasn't affected Australia coach Graham Arnold’s sense of humor.

A day after France defender Ibrahima Konaté said he didn't know any of the names in Australia’s squad, Arnold questioned the player's television habits.

“Doesn’t he have Paramount Plus?” Arnold said Monday, referring to the media platform that broadcasts A-League soccer.

The response drew plenty of laughter, but Arnold pretty quickly turned serious again.

“You know, that’s something that’s their point of view,” he said.

Australia has eight players in its 26-man squad that play at home in the A-League. Most of the others are scattered around Europe.

But anyway, Arnold didn't seem overly concerned about France's players, either, even if they include Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Hugo Lloris, among other big names.

“I’ve hardly the mentioned the word France and I’ve hardly mentioned any of their players’ names,” Arnold said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in front of (my players) and that’s not being disrespectful at all.”

Arnold said his players should soak up the occasion at Al Janoub Stadium.

“These kids have a lot of talent and I know their mentality,” the 59-year-old Australian said. “They don’t step back from anybody. They look forward and go forward.”

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