Aussies reject Arnold's attitude claims
© AFP

Leading Socceroo players are at odds with coach Graham Arnold's claims that some of them don't have their heart in being at the AFC Asian Cup.

The Australians crashed to a self-inflicted 3-1 defeat to Iraq Friday to leave them needing to beat Thailand on Monday and relying on a favourable result in the simultaneous Oman-Iraq game to go through to the quarter-finals.

Arnold startled the Australian camp when he claimed that some of his European stars found it too hard and their attitude wasn't right to carry the Socceroos through.

"Looking at that game, I would say some players don't want to be here," Arnold said. "Some of them, maybe it is too hard. Maybe the conditions are too hot. The fact that the stadiums aren't full.

"They can use heat and humidity as an excuse, but attitude comes a long way to it.

"You look at how they played ... some players, I'm questioning if they want to be out there."

There was an indignant reaction from some of the Australians spoken to after the inglorious defeat, where three individual mistakes aided Iraq's victory.

Skipper Mark Viduka, who wavered before committing himself to play at Australia's first-ever Asian Cup tournament, told reporters: "Everybody here wants to be here, it's not a question of that.

"People have cut short their holidays to be here and it means a lot to them.

"I don't think it's got to do with effort at all."

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who admitted it was his mistake for Nashat Akram's opening goal from a free kick, put it down to Arnold's angry mood straight after the game.

"I don't think so. I think it's more heat of the moment comment than anything else," Schwarzer said.

"Every player wanted to be here and everyone wants to represent their country."

Liverpool's Harry Kewell, who has struggled for form in the heat after his 11-month injury layoff, said he was surprised by Arnold's outburst.

"I am surprised. When he asked all the players to be here, everyone gave him their 100 percent commitment, maybe he's just expressing his feelings," Kewell said.

"We're all behind him, we know that we have let him down twice now and if by some chance, a miracle, we can pull through against Thailand, all credit to him.

"But it's been a disappointing night and I think everyone feels sorry not only for the manager but for the team and the supporters."

Reports suggest that Arnold may have cut adrift a proportion of his squad who know they have lost his confidence.

He has foreshadowed team changes for Monday's make-or-break game with Thailand.

Australia will be definitely be without West Ham defender Lucas Neill, who was needlessly sent off for his second yellow card in stoppage time, raising the possibility that Michael Beauchamp and Mark Milligan will get their chance.

"We'll do our best against Thailand and there are players who are desperate to get out and play and I'll be looking at this over the next 24 hours," Arnold said.