• AFP-JIJI

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Australia coach Graham Arnold says his sole focus is next week’s clash with Japan after the Socceroos became the first team to win 11 games in a row in the same World Cup qualifying campaign.

Australia achieved the historic feat by beating Oman 3-1 in Qatar on Thursday, with Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitch Duke finding the back of the net.

The victory put Australia atop Group B on goal difference over Saudi Arabia in the third and final round of Asian World Cup qualifying for Qatar.

The Australians coasted through the previous rounds with eight straight wins. In the process, they moved past Germany, Spain and Mexico, who each won 10 in a row on their paths to World Cups in Russia in 2018, South Africa in 2010 and Germany in 2006, respectively.

Australia’s streak, which stretches back to September 2019, is even more impressive given that every game except one has been away from home due to COVID-19.

While praising his players, Arnold stressed the job of booking a place at next year’s World Cup still wasn’t done and making history could wait.

“It’s something we’ll probably reflect on in the future and what a great feat it has been, especially playing 10 out of 11 games away from home,” he said.

“But to me it’s all about going to Japan and getting ready for Japan in Japan and making it 12 (wins).”

Australia heads to Japan ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Samurai Blue in Saitama looking to not just bag another win, but add to the eight clean sheets it has kept during the 11-match run.

Arnold said there were still areas the team must improve upon.

“We got dragged into an erratic game at times,” he said of his team’s first-half performance Thursday. Oman threw a lot at us.

“But once we got the boys in at halftime and calmed them down and we focused more on keeping the ball and moving them sideways and making them chase the ball, I felt that we took over the game.”

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