Socceroos boss Arnold: I've learned from 2019 Asian Cup
Head coach Graham Arnold says he has learned and grown from the Socceroos' disastrous 2019 Asian Cup campaign as he prepares for another attempt at landing the trophy.
In a testing path to the knockouts, Arnold's charges were on Thursday night drawn to face two familiar foes in world No.74 Uzbekistan and No.90 Syria, with 101st-ranked India the minnows of Group B.
Arnold will be looking for redemption for 2019, when defending champions Australia flopped at the gathering of the continent's best.
Four years ago, early in Arnold's tenure, Australia - winners of the 2015 edition - barely sealed automatic qualification from their group.
They scraped through the round of 16 against Uzbekistan on penalties and were knocked out by the United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals.
"I look back (at) what we could have done better and I've learned from it. I look at it in a totally different way today," Arnold, who was also caretaker coach at the 2007 tournament, told reporters on Friday.
"When I look back at the Asian Cup (in 2019), I was only four months into the job, I had retirements in Timmy Cahill and Mile Jedinak and an ageing group.
"I didn't really have as much knowledge as I have now about Asian football ... I'd been back in club coaching for eight or nine years.
"So all those type of things were new to me and no doubt I made mistakes through the Asian Cup.
"But now it's a completely different story. We've got more of a settled roster, it's more of a settled team, I've been in the job now for five years. I've learned a lot about Asian football and what Asia's about.
"I will go into this tournament with much more belief in myself as well ... my expectations will be even higher."
Arnold stressed Australia need to nail their preparation ahead of November's World Cup qualifiers and January's Asian Cup, and was confident his charges could challenge for silverware.
"The Middle East nations are putting a heap of money into junior football and into football itself. So it's getting harder and harder," he said.
"Japan made the last-16 (at the 2022 World Cup) and got beaten in a penalty shootout. So there's definitely some good nations there.
"But the only thing we can do is prepare ourselves the best we can and I'll make sure we do that well, and we get the boys ready to go out there and do what they did at the World Cup."
The top two teams in each of the six groups progress to the round of 16, along with the four best-ranked third-placed finishers.
If all the favourites win as expected, Australia would be on track to face Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals, then Japan in the semi-finals, although Arnold refused to look beyond the group stage.
The tournament will be held from January 12 to February 10 next year, having been moved from China to Qatar due to the former's COVID-19 restrictions.