Central defender Milos Degenek does not believe Australia will gain an advantage at the World Cup from having played regularly in host nation Qatar’s air-conditioned stadiums during the qualifying rounds for this month’s tournament.
The Socceroos, who booked their berth with victory over Peru in a playoff held in Qatar in June, played four matches during the qualifiers in stadiums being used for the finals due to Covid-19 restrictions at home.
But while that familiarity will be beneficial to the Australians, Degenek is not convinced it will help Graham Arnold’s team in their quest for a place in the knockout rounds.
“All it gives us is the knowledge of the pitch and the environment and the atmosphere, what it could be like, and the weather in the stadiums,” he said.
“It’s going to be a lot different to the weather outside. I don’t think there will be much of an advantage because once you get into the stadium the weather and the temperature is going to be like anywhere else in the world.”
“It’s going to be the same for everyone. There’s no heat; there’s no humidity. The only advantage there’s going to be is we’ve been here the last year, year-and-a-half four or five times to play different qualifying games.”
All eight of the venues being used for the World Cup are cooled to mitigate the high temperatures that affect the Gulf region.
Australia played preliminaries against China and Oman at the Khalifa Stadium, which will host eight World Cup games, before facing the United Arab Emirates and Peru in playoffs at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Arnold’s team will take on defending champions France in their opening game of the World Cup on Nov. 22 before facing Tunisia and Denmark.
“We’re really blessed to be here,” said Degenek, who will be appearing at his second finals. “I think it’s going to be one of the best World Cups ever organised.”