A note to the Danish captain informing him of a change in the squad’s line-up ended up in the hands of the Socceroos coaching staff, potentially changing the course of their World Cup clash.
In the 70th minute of the Socceroos’ 1-0 victory – which saw them progress to the round of 16 and stage a clash with Argentina – Denmark striker Robert Skov was substituted in the match with a piece of paper , which he promptly gave to captain Christian Eriksen.
A witness at the stadium said the note was passed by Eriksen to midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who threw it away. Socceroos striker Mitch Duke ran over it and passed it to the Australian bench.
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The memo called for the Danes to change their formation, effectively adding an extra player to the forward line to pursue a late goal. Minutes later, Arnold replaced defender Bailey Wright in the game, tweaking the Socceroos line-up to include a five-man backline.
Cameras captured Skov holding the note on the sideline, then passing it to Eriksen. A few minutes later, the thread returned to Arnold and assistant coach Rene Meulensteen deep in discussion, with Denmark’s score in the hands of Australian high performance manager Andrew Clark.
While the moment aired on the global feed, it was not picked up by commentators on the SBS feed. This also happened at the same time as the Danes were awarded a penalty in the box, which was quickly abandoned due to a linesman’s flag being raised, with the Danish player fouled in an offside position .
In the post-match press conference, Arnold did not address the rating, but praised the Socceroos’ late defensive efforts and explained Denmark’s change in tactics which led to Wright being injected into the match.
“I think overall, defensively, we were very good,” he said.
“Obviously they put in a big striker and had two strikers and I knew they were going to start hitting long balls.
“That’s why I put Bailey Wright in for a back five. Obviously that’s going to push you further, but we needed that extra man in the center to help deal with crosses and long balls.”
It’s not the first time the Socceroos have used opposition ratings to their advantage.
During the sudden death penalty shootout against Peru, Socceroos goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne threw away his counterpart Pedro Gallese’s water bottle, which was covered in notes about Australia’s penalty takers.
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