Socceroos manager Graham Arnold has named a 24-man squad for the Socceroos third round World Cup Qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and China.
Melbourne City’s Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren return to the squad after some months out due to quarantine requirements while the 3rd member of City’s attacking triumvirate Andrew Nabbout earns his first call-up since the 2019 Asian Cup after dazzling in the A-League last season.
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold is thrilled by their inclusion and he believes they are raring to go ahead of Thursday night’s crucial encounter.
“They bring experience and it gives me for the first time some more depth in the front part of the field with having four out and out wingers for the first time,” said Arnold.
“The boys have done a great pre-season at Melbourne City under Patrick Kisnorbo, I spoke to Patrick last night about them and Patrick is adamant that they are in fantastic shape…I know when the adrenaline kicks in, they’ll come in and do a fantastic job.”
City’s front three join Sydney FC’s ever-reliable right full-back Rhyan Grant as the squad’s A-League contingent while Gianni Stensness has been handed a maiden call-up since trading the sun of Gosford to the snow of Stavanger.
Having starred as a centre-half at the Tokyo Olympics for New Zealand, Stensness signalled his desire to play for the Socceroos and has been in close contact with Graham Arnold. The strong and imposing Mariners graduate has nailed down a starting position for Viking FK in Norway and has therefore duly earned his spot in the squad.
“Gianni had a very good season at Central Coast Mariners last year, he lives about 200 metres from my house and I caught up with him for a coffee and convinced him to play for Australia,” laughed the Socceroos manager.
“The benefit of Gianni is that he can play centre-back like he is at his club but also he can play as a defensive minded No. 6 which is very good. He will be a great acquisition for the national team.”
The inclusion of Stensness unfortunately means there was no room in the squad for former Wellington Phoenix teammate Cam Devlin who has been performing at a high level since making the move to Heart of Midlothian in Scotland.
Currently sitting 3rd in the Scottish Premiership, Devlin has solidified his place in Hearts’ team, often starting at the base of midfield alongside Everton academy graduate Beni Baningime.
Despite featuring for just a solitary minute at the Tokyo Olympics, many fans feel Devlin deserves a call-up off the back of recent performances. Arnold confirmed that the combative midfielder is certainly in the frame for selection.
“We are watching Cam and I’ve spoken to Cam and he’s loving life at Hearts in Scotland.
“The difference is with Cam (compared to other members of the Olympics squad) that he’s playing football every week and sometimes three times a week, where at the moment the A-League boys haven’t kicked a ball since the game against Egypt.
“We’re monitoring him (Devlin) closely and he’s settling in well at Hearts…he’s definitely on the radar,” confirmed Arnold, assuaging fears among fans that the midfielder had been snubbed.
Despite important A-League inclusions, the Socceroos will be without key creators Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogić as well as reliable centre-forward Adam Taggart. The former misses out due to quarantine requirements in China while both Taggart and Rogić sustained injuries at club level that keep them out of Austalia’s homecoming.
Although the list of absentees will give Arnold food for thought ahead of Thursday’s game against Saudi Arabia, Football Australia CEO James Johnson urged NSW-based fans to emerge in numbers at CommBank Stadium to support the team on their quest to qualify for the World Cup.
“I’m delighted to have the Socceroos back on home soil for the first time in over two years. It’s been a really long process to get the team back here playing…there has been plenty of complications along the way but we’re absolutely delighted that the Socceroos are coming home,” gleefully announced Johnson.
“This is a crunch match, it’s gonna be an exciting match…the ticket sales are going brilliantly and we’re hoping to get around the 25,000 mark in terms of attendance.
“We’re calling on the community to come and support the team because every additional person in the stands means we have one voice louder and that’s gonna help this team play to its very best.”
For fans wishing to attend Thursday night’s 8:10pm match against Saudi Arabia at CommBank Stadium, tickets are on sale via Ticketek.
The match against Saudi Arabia as well as the match against China will be broadcast in Australia across Network Ten. The match against China will kick off in Sharjah at 2:00am (AEDT) on November 17.
Socceroos 24-Player Squad | 8 – 17 November 2021 | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)
|Name||Club, Country||‘A’ Caps (Goals)||Junior Club |
|Aziz BEHICH||Giresunspor, Turkey||45 (2)||Meadow Park SC (Football Victoria)|
|Martin BOYLE||Hibernian FC, Scotland||10 (5)||Lewis United FC/Montrose FC (Scotland)|
|Milos DEGENEK||Red Star Belgrade, Serbia||31 (1)||Blacktown City FC (Football NSW)|
|Kenneth DOUGALL||Blackpool FC, England||3 (0)||Samford Rangers FC (Football Queensland)|
|Mitchell DUKE||Fagiano Okayama, Japan||13 (6)||Liverpool Rangers SC (Football NSW)|
|Callum ELDER||Hull City AFC, England||1 (0)||Manly United FC (Football NSW)|
|Denis GENREAU||Toulouse FC, France||1 (0)||Brighton SC (Football Victoria)|
|Rhyan GRANT||Sydney FC, Australia||18 (1)||Canowindra Juniors/Bathurst 75 (Football NSW)|
|Ajdin HRUSTIC||Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany||11 (2)||Heatherton United SC (Football Victoria)|
|Jackson IRVINE||FC St. Pauli, Germany||41 (6)||Ringwood City SC (Football Victoria)|
|James JEGGO||Aris Thessaloniki, Greece||9 (0)||Green Gully SC (Football Victoria)|
|Fran KARACIC||Brescia Calcio, Italy||5 (1)||NK Lokomotiva (Croatia)|
|Mathew LECKIE||Melbourne City FC, Australia||65 (13)||Brimbank Stallions FC (Football Victoria)|
|Awer MABIL||FC Midtjylland, Denmark||21 (6)||Saint Augustines SC (Football South Australia)|
|Jamie MACLAREN||Melbourne City FC, Australia||18 (6)||Green Gully SC (Football Victoria))|
|Riley MCGREE||Birmingham City FC, England||5 (0)||Gawler Eagles FC (Football South Australia)|
|Andrew NABBOUT||Melbourne City FC, Australia||9 (2)||Brunswick City SC (Football Victoria)|
|Nikita RUKAVYTSYA||Hapoel Be’er Sheva FC, Israel||20 (1)||Perth SC/Inglewood United (Football West)|
|Mathew RYAN (Gk)||Real Sociedad, Spain||65 (0)||Blacktown City FC (Football NSW)|
|Trent SAINSBURY||KV Kortrijk, Belgium||54 (3)||Armadale SC (Football West)|
|Harry SOUTTAR||Stoke City FC, England||9 (6)||Brechin City Boys Club (Scotland)|
|Gianni STENSNESS||Viking FK, Norway||0 (0)||Pittwater RSL FC/Collaroy Cromer Strikers FC (Football NSW)|
|Lawrence THOMAS (Gk)||SønderjyskE Fodbold, Denmark||1 (0)||Winston Hills Bears FC (Football NSW)|
|Danny VUKOVIC (Gk)||NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands||4 (0)||St Clair United SC (Football NSW)|
Image Supplied: Getty Images