Graham Arnold’s second coming as Socceroos coach will begin against the same side as his first tenure: the unlikely opponent of Kuwait.
Football Federation Australia on Monday announced a friendly against the world No.141 in Kuwait City to take place on October 15 as part of Australia’s preparations for its Asian Cup defence in January.
The Socceroos last met the Persian Gulf state in the opening match of the 2015 competition, when Ange Postecoglou’s side fell behind at AAMI Park only to romp to a 4-1 win.
Australia will be expected to once more account for the Kuwaitis, the only Arab nation not to qualify for next year’s 24-nation continental championship.
FFA has overlooked higher-profile opponents in the October window in favour of a match in the Middle East to help acclimatise for the UAE-hosted tournament.
After this month’s get-to-know-you training trip to Antalya, Turkey, Arnold will assemble his squad in Dubai for a shorter camp before heading to Kuwait.
While the Turkey camp featured a 30-strong group, allowing Arnold to assess fringe talents based in Europe, next month’s squad is likely to be leaner.
“During our recent training camp in Turkey we worked hard to add attacking layers to the strong defensive base the Socceroos had at this year’s World Cup,” Arnold said.
“The fresh faces in camp did exceptionally well. They added a lot of energy to the training sessions and plenty of enthusiasm.
“Next month’s camp in the UAE, which will conclude with our friendly against Kuwait, will provide us with the chance to develop our play further and put our new style into a game situation.”
We're taking on Kuwait next month!
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) September 17, 2018
Arnold, who became Socceroos caretaker coach in 2006 after Guus Hiddink departed the job, oversaw a 2-0 defeat of Kuwait in Sydney in his first match in charge, thanks to goals from Travis Dodd and Sasho Petrovski.
But Kuwait got its own back in the reverse fixture three weeks later, beating the Socceroos 2-0 on home turf.
The “Blue Wave” has proved a tricky opponent for Australia, humbling Pim Verbeek’s side 1-0 in Canberra during qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup.
Should the Socceroos triumph, as they’ll be expected to do, it will be the first win in four visits to Kuwait City dating to 1977.