FIFA World Cup 2022, Australia v Denmark
A note intended for the Denmark captain advising him of a change to the side’s formation ended up in the hands of Socceroos coaching staff, potentially changing the course of their World Cup clash.
In the 70th minute of the Socceroos 1-0 win – which saw them qualify for the round of 16 and and set up a clash with Argentina – Danish forward Robert Skov was subbed into the game with a piece of paper, which he promptly gave to skipper Christian Eriksen.
A witness at the stadium said the note was passed from Eriksen to midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who threw it away. Socceroos striker Mitch Duke swooped on it and passed it to the Australian bench.
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The note instructed the Danes to change their formation, effectively adding an extra player to the forward line to chase a late goal. Minutes later, Arnold subbed defender Bailey Wright into the game, tweaking the Socceroos’ formation to include a five-player backline.
Cameras captured Skov onholding the note on the sideline and then passing it to Eriksen. Minutes later, the feed crossed back to Arnold and assistant coach Rene Meulensteen deep in discussion, with Denmark’s note in the hands of Australia’s head of high performance Andrew Clark.
While the moment was broadcast on the world feed, it was not picked up by the commentators on the SBS feed. It was also occurring at the same time the Danes were awarded a penalty in the box, which was quickly scrapped due to a linesman’s raised flag, with the Danish player who was fouled in an offside position.
In the post-game press conference, Arnold didn’t address the note, but praised the Socceroos’ late defensive efforts, and explained the change in Denmark’s tactics that led to Wright’s injection into the game.
“I thought overall defensively we were very good,” he said.
“Obviously they put a big striker on and had two strikers on and I knew they were going to start hitting long balls.
“That’s why I put Bailey Wright on for a back five. Obviously then it’s going to push you deeper but we needed that extra man centrally to help with dealing with the crosses and long balls.”
It’s not the first time the Socceroos have used opposition notes to their advantage.
In the sudden death penalty shoot-out against Peru, Socceroos goal keeper Andrew Redmayne famously threw away the water bottle of his opposite number Pedro Gallese, which was covered in notes about Australia’s penalty shooters.
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