Arnold's men will make their debut in the continent's top competition after switching from the Oceania Football Federation to the Asian Football Confederation. Although Australia are newcomers, the team has been tipped in many quarters as one of the favourites to win the title.
With the tournament just two days away, Arnold yesterday led six Australian players including Newcastle's new striker Mark Viduka and Everton midfielder Tim Cahill to a reception at the Australian Embassy.
"We should and need to make the last four, considering that we are ranked No.3 of the Asian countries in the world rankings," said Arnold in an exclusive interview with The Nation. Asked which teams were also title contenders, Arnold replied: "Every participating team is very strong and it will be a tough challenge for my team." The Australians have been drawn in Group A along with Thailand, Oman and Iraq. Many thought it a manageable assignment but Arnold had different ideas.
"Oman are strong physically, Iraq are coming good and Thailand have the home advantage. So all are difficult games," said Arnold, who said he was glad to face the hosts in the last match instead of the first.
Arnold acknowledged that the hot whether in Bangkok could have an effect on his team, as most of his players are based in Europe. However, he thought a training camp in Singapore would put his men in good stead for the tough conditions.
The Australians will have their first training session at Suphachalasai Stadium this afternoon.