The Socceroos are set to play in-front of fans for the first time in almost two years when they take on Japan in their next World Cup qualifier, albeit with a twist.
The Japan News reported last week that a small number of fans will be allowed into the Saitama Stadium on Tuesday evening as the Japanese government are beginning to allow more sporting fans to safely return to stadiums across the country.
However, fans who do attend the blockbuster will need to wear masks and are unable to cheer or chant – meaning they’ll be limited to clapping and sitting mostly in silence throughout the duration of the game.
“That might be weird for the Japanese players but not for us,” Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said.
“We can’t understand them when they sing anyway,
“We knew that there would be a bit of a crowd and we know they can’t sing but they can clap and it’ll be a great experience.”
With the Socceroos currently holding a six-point gap over the Samurai Blue, a win could not only strengthen their grip on a top-two spot in Group B but could also spell the end of coaching counterpart and former team-mate Hajime Moriyasu’s tenure as Japan coach.
Arnold and Moriyasu know each-other well having played together in the late 1990’s at J-League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
However, the Socceroos boss said that despite having sympathy towards Moriyasu’s situation, his focus is solely on the game at hand and extending their record-breaking 11 game winning streak.
“He’s a fantastic guy… it just shows you how fickle coaching is,” Arnold said.
“Moriyasu’s done a great job with Japan and a couple of losses and that’s the situation coaching can be,
“It’s exactly the same for me, that’s why I’m just enjoying one game at a time, one camp at a time and enjoying what I’m doing at the moment.”
Arnold also indicated that he will make a few changes to the side which defeated Oman 3-1 last Friday but is yet to decide on who or how many players will be making way.
Image credit: Getty
Japan vs Australia
Date: Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan
Kick-off: 9:14pm (AEDT)