Syria coach to put Arnold friendship aside in bid for 'revenge over Australia'

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Syria coach Bernd Stange is ready to put his friendship with Graham Arnold aside in order to take revenge over Australia at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

The German was a coaching rival to Arnold from 1998 to 2001 as Perth Glory locked horns with Sydney’s Northern Spirit.

And the pair will meet again on January 15 in the United Arab Emirates city of Al Ain in the final game of Group B. 

Stange is looking forward to seeing his old mate Arnold again.

“Graham is a very good coach and a very good friend and we met in London recently,” Stange told The World Game.

“I was very happy when he got the Australia job. He deserves it and will do very well.” 

However, Stange hopes things will be different against Syria.

The West Asians are still smarting from their defeat at the hands of the Socceroos in the continental play-off for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  

In October 2017, Australia defeated Syria 3-2 on aggregate over the two legs.

Only a Tim Cahill goal in extra-time ended hopes in Damascus of a first appearance on the global stage. 

“I think we are going to get revenge over Australia,” Stange said.

“The two games were very close. The first in Malaysia and the second in Sydney and the result could have been different, and the World Cup was close.

"I am always optimistic as a coach, that is part of my job and this is a great chance for us to get revenge.” 

Despite the confidence, Stange knows that the Asian champions will present a tough test.

“Australia are a very good team and will be a strong favourite to win the Asian Cup," he said.

"They are full of good players and we will have to be at our best and not just against Australia but also against Jordan and Palestine.” 

According to Stange, Syria's preparations are going along smoothly.

“Many of our players are based overseas and we will start our training in the United Arab Emirates on December 22. We are looking forward to it,” Stange said.