Socceroos show smarts by appearing to obtain secret Danish note mid-game

The Peru playoff gave us Andrew Redmayne and the water bottle, and now the World Cup has provided another superb display of gamesmanship in the form of Denmark’s travelling tactical notes.

Viewers watching the Socceroos’ historic upset win from Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning would have missed out on some juicy footage broadcast on the world feed, which appears to show coach Graham Arnold and his staff learning of their opponents’ mid-game strategy and then adjusting their own accordingly.

In was the 69th minute at Al Janoub Stadium when, with Australia 1-0 up, Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand made two substitutions as they chased an equaliser that would have stopped the Socceroos progressing to the knockout stages.

As forwards Andreas Cornelius and Robert Skov are brought on, the footage shows Skov holding a piece of paper as he runs on to the pitch. He hands to captain Christian Eriksen, who can be seen reading the message before the camera cuts away.

Interesting series of events from @Socceroos game no one is talking about:

70' Danish sub carries note onto field to give to Eriksen
72' Note appears to end up in hands of Aussie coaching staff
74' Australia makes sub and switches formation to 5-4-1 #GoSocceroos #GiveIt100

— Gerard Laws (@gerard_laws) December 1, 2022

At some point over the next couple of minutes, the note appears to have retrieved by a Socceroos player and taken to staff on the sideline.

The camera then cuts to Australia’s dugout, where head of sports science, Andrew Clark, is holding the piece of paper and conferring with Arnold and his assistant, René Meulensteen.

“The Danish note may have found its way to the Australian bench now,” the commentator said. “It’s not just about the pure football, getting the job done.”

Another two minutes later Arnold withdraws attacking midfielder Riley McGree and replaces him with defender Bailey Wright, who slots in as the fifth man in a bolstered backline to weather a late attacking storm as Denmark chase an equaliser.

A supporter who was present in the stands said he saw the sequence of events unfold.

“A note came out from the Danish manager around 70th min,” tweeted Adam Jones. “Gets handed to Eriksen, who then hands it to Hojberg. Hojberg throws it on the ground, Mitch Duke runs over picks it up. Hands it to Arnie, who instantly tells Wright to start warming up.”

Whether it actually influenced Arnold’s decisions remains unclear, with Football Australia staff insisting he would have made the same substitution regardless, having already predicted Denmark would bring on tall forwards if they needed a late goal.

At the stadium, I saw it:

A note came out from the Danish manager around 70th min. Gets handed to Eriksen, who then hands it to Hojberg. Hojberg throws it on the ground, Mitch Duke runs over picks it up. Hands it to Arnie, who instantly tells Wright to start warming up.

— Adam Jones (@TheCultFigure) December 1, 2022

“They put a big striker on and had two strikers on, and I knew they would start hitting long balls,” Arnold said.

“That’s why I put Bailey Wright on for a back five. Obviously it’s going to push you deeper, but we needed that extra man centrally to help with dealing with the crosses and long balls.”

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The whole thing was reminiscent of Australia’s famous penalty shootout win over Peru in June when Redmayne, brought on as a shock 119th-minute substitute, sabotaged the scheming of rival goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Gallese had notes scrawled on his water bottle to tell him which way each Australian penalty-taker tended to go, but midway through the shootout Redmayne could be seen lobbing the bottle over the advertising board.

The Sydney FC stopper, dubbed the “grey Wiggle” for his unorthodox goal-line dancing, saved a crucial penalty to send the Socceroos to Qatar.


Emma Kemp in Doha

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