Socceroos manager Graham Arnold has unveiled a 25-man squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Vietnam and Oman with many fresh faces set to feature.
Sitting third in the group on 11 points with four matches remaining, Arnold has decided to call upon the uncapped A-League trio of Joel King, Marco Tilio and Kye Rowles to add a some youthful exuberance to a squad which has looked lethargic and bereft of ideas at times during qualifying.
Singling out the dynamism of Melbourne City’s maestro Tilio while underscoring the importance of continued development of youth in the national team, Arnold is confident that this group can perform to a high standard in the all-important matches.
“In 2018 when I watched the Socceroos play in Russia, I knew that day that Timmy Cahill, Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan were not going to make 2022 as well as Robbie Kruse…I needed to create depth – that’s why I did the Olympic team – and those three players I’ve had with the Olympic team and I know they can do great things,” he established.
“Marco [Tilio] gives you a complete X-factor, either if he starts or comes off the bench. He’s one of those players that Australia doesn’t have a lot of where he can change a game with one action, so it’s exciting to bring these young boys in.”
Rounding out a healthy A-League contingent is Mathew Leckie, Rhyan Grant, Andrew Redmayne, Jamie Maclaren, Craig Goodwin and Olympian Connor Metcalfe who has been rewarded with his first call-up since the June qualifiers after a series of strong performances for Melbourne City this season. According to the Socceroos coach, the nine Australian-based players have earned their selections through their hard work and dedication throughout the early parts of this season.
“[They] have been rewarded for their form in the A-League, as well as their potential and attributes that they can add to the national team,” explained Arnold.
“I always look at picking the best squad of players which is structurally three goalkeepers and two players for every position and then looking at their match minutes – looking at how many games they’ve played leading into camps and I like to bring players in that have got match minutes unless we’re desperate for positions.”
Battling against the various challenges presented by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Arnold is “crossing [his] fingers all weekend” in the hope that none of his players are affected by the virus in the lead-up to the all-important match against Vietnam.
These roadblocks were particularly felt by the Socceroos’ star winger Awer Mabil who is a surprising absentee from the squad after contracting COVID and enjoying zero minutes at his Danish club FC Midtjyyland since the November qualifiers.
“I spoke to Awer, he has not kicked a ball since the game against China, he’s got zero match minutes in his legs, he’s had COVID just after Christmas, said Arnold.
“He’s in the process of trying to sort his club situation out, whether he’s staying with Midtjyyland or moving on. He himself doesn’t feel that he’s 100% fit and ready for these two games.”
Joining Mabil on the list of absentees is the injured duo of Callum Elder and Harry Souttar while Connor Metcalfe was preferred in midfield to recent squad mainstays Denis Genreau and Kenny Dougall. Metcalfe rounds out the squad’s City-blue tinge with no less than four players selected from last season’s A-League Champions.
Despite the missing players, fans of the Socceroos will be enamoured by the return of Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogić after both players missed Australia’s winless set of matches against Saudi Arabia and China. The star midfielders will look to add a semblance of unpredictability to Arnold’s team while equally exuding a sense of class that was largely unapparent in their absence.
For fans wishing to attend Thursday night’s 8:10pm match against Vietnam at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, a small amount of tickets remain on sale via Ticketek.
The match against Vietnam as well as the match against Oman will be broadcast in Australia across Network Ten. The match against China will kick off in Muscat at 3:00am (AEDT) on February 2.
Socceroos Squad | 24 January – 1 February 2022 | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)
|Name||Club, Country||‘A’ Caps (Goals)||Junior Club (Member Federation/Country)|
|Aziz BEHICH||Giresunspor, Turkey||47 (2)||Meadow Park SC (Football Victoria)|
|Brandon BORRELLO||SG Dynamo Dresden, Germany||4 (0)||Modbury Jets SC (Football South Australia)|
|Martin BOYLE||Hibernian FC, Scotland||12 (5)||Lewis United FC/Montrose FC (Scotland)|
|Milos DEGENEK||Uncontracted||33 (1)||Blacktown City FC (Football NSW)|
|Mitchell DUKE||Fagiano Okayama, Japan||15 (7)||Liverpool Rangers SC (Football NSW)|
|Craig GOODWIN||Adelaide United FC, Australia||5 (0)||Munno Para City SC (Football South Australia)|
|Rhyan GRANT||Sydney FC, Australia||20 (1)||Canowindra Juniors/Bathurst 75 (Football NSW)|
|Ajdin HRUSTIC*||Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany||13 (2)||Heatherton United SC (Football Victoria)|
|Jackson IRVINE||FC St. Pauli, Germany||43 (6)||Ringwood City SC (Football Victoria)|
|James JEGGO||Aris Thessaloniki, Greece||11 (0)||Green Gully SC (Football Victoria)|
|Fran KARACIC||Brescia Calcio, Italy||6 (1)||NK Lokomotiva (Croatia)|
|Joel KING||Sydney FC, Australia||0 (0)||Shellharbour Junior FC (Football NSW)|
|Mathew LECKIE||Melbourne City FC, Australia||67 (13)||Brimbank Stallions FC (Football Victoria)|
|Jamie MACLAREN||Melbourne City FC, Australia||19 (6)||Green Gully SC (Football Victoria))|
|Ryan MCGOWAN||Kuwait SC, Kuwait||21 (0)||Para Hills Knights SC (Football South Australia)|
|Riley MCGREE||Middlesbrough FC, England||7 (0)||Gawler Eagles FC (Football South Australia)|
|Connor METCALFE||Melbourne City FC, Australia||2 (0)||South Cardiff FC (Northern NSW Football)|
|Aaron MOOY||Shanghai Port FC, China PR||47 (6)||Carlingford Redbacks FC (Football NSW)|
|Andrew REDMAYNE (Gk)||Sydney FC, Australia||2 (0)||Gosford City Dragons FC (Football NSW)|
|Mathew RYAN (Gk)||Real Sociedad, Spain||67 (0)||Blacktown City FC (Football NSW)|
|Tom ROGIC||Celtic FC, Scotland||51 (9)||Tuggeranong United FC (Capital Football)|
|Kye ROWLES||Central Coast Mariners FC, Australia||0 (0)||Palm Beach SC (Football Queensland)|
|Trent SAINSBURY||KV Kortrijk, Belgium||56 (4)||Armadale SC (Football West)|
|Marco TILIO||Melbourne City FC, Australia||0 (0)||APIA Leichhardt FC/Sydney Olympic FC (Football NSW)|
|Danny VUKOVIC (Gk)||NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands||4 (0)||St Clair United SC (Football NSW)|