Socceroos coach Graham Arnold tests positive for COVID-19

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia head coach Graham Arnold has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time this year as he was preparing to join the Socceroos camp for two must-win World Cup qualifying matches over the next two weeks.

Football Australia on Friday said Arnold returned the positive result after following national team protocols and undergoing a test on Thursday ahead of his planned arrival into camp on Friday.

The 58-year-old Arnold had the coronavirus in January and was in isolation for the game against Vietnam in Melbourne, with assistant Rene Meulensteen taking charge for the 4-0 Australia win.

Football Australia was also attempting to contact media who attended Thursday’s squad announcement in Sydney to advise them of the positive case.

Australia plays Japan in Sydney on March 24 and Saudi Arabia away on March 29.

Australia is in third place in Group B in Asian qualifying and needs to beat second-place Japan and group leader Saudi Arabia to have any real chance of automatic qualification for the World Cup later this year in Qatar.

If the Socceroos finish third they will enter a playoff route to the finals which will involve facing the third-place team from the other Asian qualifying group and then the fifth-place finisher in South American qualifying.

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