The Socceroos have secured a controversial rematch against world champions Argentina in Beijing, after the South Americans’ coach admitted the Australians were his toughest World Cup challenge.
- Coach Arnold wants matches against the best nations
- Beijing game upsets Australian Uyghur community
- Appearance fee in Argentina worth more than $7 million
The Socceroos will face world champions Argentina in Beijing on June 15 in crucial preparation for their participation in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualification.
The long-rumored friendly clash at the recently renovated Estadio de los Trabajadores will take place, just over six months after Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in the World Cup round of 16 in Qatar , Football Australia confirmed on Monday.
“Securing a match against world champions Argentina reflects Australia’s position in world football and the respect the best nations have for our senior teams,” FA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement.
The Socceroos also have a highly anticipated friendly match against England at Wembley Stadium in October.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina is number 1 in the world in the latest FIFA ranking, with Australia in 29th place.
The best player in the world, Argentina’s Lionel Messi (with ball), walks past Socceroo Mitchell Duke during the teams clash at the World Cup in Qatar.
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold was desperate to get the clash with Argentina, citing the importance of facing top-tier opposition ahead of a new World Cup cycle.
‘It would be amazing. Now I get goosebumps thinking about it,” Arnold told reporters earlier this month.
“If this game goes ahead, it would be great to play the world champions right now.”
‘There’s no better way to test players than to put them up against the top opposition, because if you put them up against the bottom opposition, well, then you’re not learning too much about the players.
Not everyone in Australia is happy about the prospect of the Socceroos playing Argentina in China next month (pictured, the world champions celebrate their first goal in Qatar)
Craig Goodwin (pictured) forced an own goal for Argentina in the World Cup round of 16, and the Socceroos earned much respect for taking the champions down to the last minute.
‘So I want these hard games. I want to play against teams that are going to push us to the limit and we are going to push them to the limit.
“Those kinds of games are crucial for our preparation and make us improve.”
Earlier this month, the Australia-based Uyghur community expressed opposition to hosting the game in China.
Alim Osman, president of the Victorian Uyghur Association, said sending the Socceroos to play an exhibition game against Argentina in Beijing “is another slap in the face for Australian Uyghurs.”
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold (pictured in black in Qatar last year) revealed that his Argentina counterpart told him Australia gave Lionel Messi and co. his most difficult match of the tournament
“We strongly believe that doing business as usual with China is contributing to crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs,” Osman said.
Argentina ended Australia’s golden run at the World Cup in Qatar with goals from Messi and Julián Álvarez, although Craig Goodwin forced an own goal from Enzo Fernández to send the clash to the end.
Arnold said that his Argentine counterpart, Lionel Scaloni, had told him at a recent FIFA coaches’ conference that the Socceroos proved to be their most difficult game in the World Cup.
The match, which kicks off at 8pm local time (10pm AEST), will be the Socceroos’ first since a pair of home friendlies against Ecuador in March.