Australia’s coach Graham Arnold said that getting ready to play Palestine next week has been “quite stressful” because of the war between Israel and Hamas. However, he hopes that football can bring some happiness.
The Socceroos beat Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne, so they are already in first place in Group I going into the 2026 World Cup qualifier in Kuwait on Tuesday.
There was also a match in the other group on Thursday in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, between Lebanon and Palestine. The score was 0-0.
Their game against Palestine was supposed to take place in the West Bank, but because of the war, it has been moved to Kuwait City.
“With everything that’s going on in the Middle East at the moment it’s been quite stressful for me and just making sure that everything (preparation) is great,” stated Arnold.
He said it was “horrific” that there was a fight, but his team needed to focus on football.
“What we do have control over is our performance and playing against Palestine and going out and getting the job done for Australia,” he said.
“Obviously we are 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.”
The goal against Bangladesh was scored by Harry Souttar, a defender for Leicester City. He said that the team had to be serious in Kuwait and ignore their feelings.
“Obviously we know kind of what’s going on for both sides — it’s horrendous,” he told the press.
I’m not going to talk about politics right now, but I will say that we will only be thinking about the game at that point.
“We’re sure that Palestine will be ready for it.” There will be more than just football on the line, we know that.
“But we’re there to get a result and get a job done.”
Australia wants to win a sixth straight World Cup. In 2022, they made it to the round of 16 in Qatar.
On offer to Asian Football Confederation teams are a record eight straight spots and one international playoff spot. The teams are split into nine groups of four.
The last Asian qualifying round is for the top two teams from each group.