How Arnold set Socceroos up for Asian Cup disappointment

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The green and gold coach promised too much in a competition that was always going to test Australia

There's a fine line between confidence and cockiness - and it's one Graham Arnold was guilty of overstepping at the Asian Cup.

On the back of two years of A-League dominance with Sydney FC, Arnold promised too much too soon with a Socceroos squad that was always going to struggle replicating what it achieved four years ago on home soil.

Endless injuries, playing in the UAE and the overall progression of Asian competition meant defending the title so soon into his reign was going to take something special.

To his credit but ultimate peril, Arnold refused to rest on excuses leading into the tournament - getting a nation's hopes up in the process.

From the allure of seeing the Socceroos potentially play like an enterprising Premier League side.

"I've been studying Liverpool a lot - that's the system and the style we want to play," Arnold told Fox Sports in late December.

"We expect every time we go on the pitch that we're on the front foot."

To simply underselling Australia's Asian Cup opponents in a region that could very easily leave the Socceroos behind in years to come.

"I’ve had a look at, obviously, the opposition - but I focus on us,” Arnold said.

“It’s all about us. We get our game right, I expect to win every game.

"We have seven games and I expect to win every game.”

In the end, the Socceroos would play just five games in the UAE and be held goalless in three of those as the free-flowing football that was promised failed to take flight. 

While time and a more potent front three could see Arnold's vision come to fruition, fans were led to think Australia could well hit the ground running. 

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At the Sky Blues, the green and gold coach turned early struggles into success with his unwavering sense of self-belief.

While that bravado paid off in the A-League, international football is a different ball game and Socceroos fans aren't ones to take disappointment lightly.

Just ask Ange Postecoglou. 

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