MELBOURNE: Defending champions Australia have scheduled a friendly against fellow finalists Oman in Dubai on December 30, as coach Graham Arnold will get to pit his wits against former boss Pim Verbeek in the Socceroos’ final Asian Cup warmup. At the end of his first stint as Australia coach, Arnold was replaced by Dutchman Verbeek after the side bowed out of the 2007 Asian Cup at the quarterfinal stage. Arnold then served as an assistant to Verbeek when the Dutchman helped Australia qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they were eliminated at the group phase.
“The game against Oman will serve as a great chance to provide players that haven’t played as regularly with their clubs match minutes against a strong west Asian nation,” Arnold said in a media release on Thursday. “It will also be nice to see Pim again. We shared many great memories with the Socceroos and he has done a fantastic job with Oman. “We are expecting a tough match but also a game played in a great spirit as both nations prepare for the tournament proper.”
Australia will bid to defend their Asian title at the January 5-February 1 tournament in the United Arab Emirates, opening their Group B campaign against Jordan before matches against Palestine and Syria. Oman, meanwhile, have been drawn in Group F alongside Japan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. — Reuters