Socceroos v Lebanon: international football friendly – live!

Jonathan Howcroft on 20 November 2018

Graham Arnold has just spoken on TV. Here’s a selection of some of the choice cuts.

On ringing the changes “It’s about giving players an opportunity... creating more depth and competition for places.”

On Mabil and Boyle starting: “They’ve been rewarded for their impact. They’re exciting players.”

On the midfield mix: “Aaron will play more as a 10, Jackson and Musti will play as 6s with license to get forward.”

On Cahill: “Timmy’s fitted in great. There’s been no talk about his farewell but first and foremost is about winning tonight and improving on the South Korea game.”

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold watches on during a training session at ANZ Stadium.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold watches on during a training session at ANZ Stadium. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Lebanon XI

Ranked 82nd in the world (ninth in Asia), Lebanon haven’t scored in their past three matches, a run including two draws as well as a defeat to Kuwait - the side Australia dispensed with easily last month in Graham Arnold’s return to the hot-seat. However, before that loss Lebanon went undefeated for two and a half years. Granted, their opponents during this run weren’t much chop but you can only beat what’s in front of you.

In this period Lebanon qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup. As near neighbours of Australia’s three group stage opponents in January (Syria, Palestine and Jordan) they provide classically stereotypical preparation for the Socceroos, one based on geographical proximity irrespective of any tactical similarities.

Updated

Australia XI

Graham Arnold has made seven changes to the side that started against South Korea on the weekend, taking the opportunity to experiment ahead of the Asian Cup. Rhyan Grant makes his international debut while Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mustafa Amini all make their first starts at this level.

So that means two changes in defence with Milos Degenek getting a start in place of Mark Milligan, and Rhyan Grant receiving the trust of his former Sydney FC boss at right back with Josh Risdon given a spell.

Aaron Mooy is now alongside Jackson Irvine and Mustafa Amini in midfield, the latter well known to Arnold from his Central Coast days and in line for just his fourth cap.

It is a completely revamped forward line and a massive opportunity for the trio of Awer Mabil, Tomi Juric and Martin Boyle to stake their claims for regular starts. A powerful showing from either Mabil or Boyle could put the pressure on Robbie Kruse, while Juric is the third number 9 in as many matches as Arnold figures out where goals are going to come from.

Updated

Preamble

Good evening and welcome to another Guardian minute-by-minute extravaganza. Tonight we bring you Australia vs Lebanon from Sydney (AKA the Tim Cahill Testimonial). Kick-off is scheduled for 7.30pm local time (8am GMT).

Tonight’s match contains two clear narratives. The first, and most sporting, is this is Australia’s final scheduled warm-up fixture before January’s Asian Cup. After selecting his best XI on Saturday against South Korea, Graham Arnold is expected to shuffle his pack a bit more and cast his eye over some fringe selections before naming his squad for the UAE.

Tom Rogic and Robbie Kruse have been given the night off meaning there’ll be at least two new starters. Rogic’s place is surely under no threat but if Kruse’s understudy catches the eye they could well force their way into contention for a starting berth. Awer Mabil has impressed in the past two friendlies, and Martin Boyle looked lively on debut while even Craig Goodwin comes into the reckoning tonight. Then there’s the issue of who plays up front, which brings us on to...

The second major talking point - the farewell cap afforded to Tim Cahill, Australia’s record goalscorer. How much time the veteran receives on the pitch and how much impact he has remains to be seen, but it is a warm gesture to hand the greatest Socceroo a moment of acknowledgement. (We can get into a debate about the merits of these farewell appearances later - I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter, and I certainly don’t object to a special case being made for a player of Cahill’s contribution.)

There’s plenty to chat about if you want to get in touch: the Asian Cup squad, Arnie’s tactics, Cahill, the FFA AGM, and much more besides. To have your say please send tweets to @JPHowcroft and emails to jonathan.howcroft.freelance@theguardian.com.

Here’s all 50 of Cahill’s strikes in green and gold. What a trooper.

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