A lot has changed in the world since we last saw the Socceroos take to the pitch. 2020 saw the men’s national team go without a single fixture, as has the beginning of 2021, but all that is about to change as Graham Arnold’s men take on Kuwait in the first match of the third round of World Cup Qualifiers.
COVID remains a roadblock for selection with the talismanic Aaron Mooy unable to play, instead deciding to spend time with his family for the first time since the new year.
Despite Mooy’s exclusion and the missing Tom Rogic, who is currently suffering from a minor ankle injury, Arnold is adamant that the squad itself is very strong and one worth getting excited about.
“I think overall it’s a great squad. It’s a mixture of experience and youth,” Arnold said.
“If COVID hadn’t made an impact I probably would’ve given these younger boys a chance a long time ago.
“The fact it’s a one camp kind of thing in a bubble and there’s four games in 12 days, and we’ve got a 15 day camp, that gives me a chance to see those players and see players that haven’t been in before or haven’t been in for a long while.
“To select this squad was the hardest that i’ve had to do because everyone has personal decisions and personal reasons.
“I had to speak to every player to make sure they’re ready to come. On Aaron’s side it was more around quarantine in China.
“The way the world is at the moment with the quarantine side of things and with COVID around, it’s down to the individual.
“As I said, it’s a very strong squad, we have great depth in every position and i’m excited about the players that are coming here.”
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The squad is comprised of a mixture of players plying their trade around the world as well as a number of familiar faces that have been lighting up the A-League in 2021.
Two of the players included off the back of impressive A-League campaigns are Connor Metcalfe and Denis Genreau.
The youngsters are both eligible to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics and Arnold believes that giving them a chance to be a part of the national set up at such a young age will only help their careers.
“They’ve had great seasons. Macarthur has done a great job with Denis and taken him to another level,” he said.
“I saw a lot in Connor and its taken Patty Kisnorbo to give Connor a lot of belief and a lot of confidence.
“Who would’ve thought that he’d be captain of Melbourne City just two weeks ago? He’s gone to another level.
“From my past experiences in life and also football with the national team, when you put the young players in and around the experienced players, you can definitely take them to another level and we as a nation need that and we need that quickly.
“I truly believe the strength of the Socceroos is the Olyroos and that’s why I took the Olyroos job on as well.
“When you look at these young boys that i’ve picked, I just want to make it clear, they are here on performance.
“Their performances this year have been fantastic and as I said it’s exciting to get these great players, these great young kids in around the older experienced players to be in this camp for a good three weeks in total.
“For these kids it’s an exciting journey ahead.”
Arnold has been buoyed by the positivity amongst the group already, with a number of players still yet to arrive in the camp.
Those that arrived early, though, they have done so with great excitement according to Arnold, as they took to the training pitch for the first time last night.
“We haven’t been together for 18 months, which is a very long time, but when you see the boys coming into camp like they started coming in yesterday, it puts a big smile on my face,” he said.
“Being back on the pitch with them for the first time in 18 months last night was fantastic.
“The boys have got great energy and they’re just so excited to be here.”
Arnold spoke further to the culture of the group and believes that despite such a long time apart, it won’t take long at all for things to click amongst both the staff and the squad.
“The culture that I believe in the most is a family culture,” he said.
“Within the Socceroos, the staff are my brothers and the players are my kids.
“That’s the way I manage people and I do know when you get that right, and I do believe we have that right, when you’re away from your family and you come home, it only takes you an hour or two to get back to normal and it feels like you’ve never been away from each other.
“That’s what I truly believe will be the situation with ourselves. Already the staff feels like i’ve never been away from them and the players will be exactly the same.”
Socceroos full squad for upcoming WCQ
Aziz Behich (Kayserispor, Turkey), Brandon Borrello (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Martin Boyle (Hibernian, Scotland), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Kenneth Dougall (Blackpool, England), Mitchell Duke (Western Sydney Wanderers), Denis Genreau (Macarthur FC), Apostolos Giannou (OFI Crete, Greece), Curtis Good (Melbourne City), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), James Holland (LASK Linz, Austria), Ajdin Hrustic (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Jackson Irvine (Hibernian, Scotland), Fran Karacic (Brescia Calcio, Italy), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC, Germany), Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland, Denmark), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Ryan McGowan (Sydney FC), Riley McGree (Birmingham City FC, England), Connor Metcalfe (Melbourne City), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Mathew Ryan (Arsenal, England) Trent Sainsbury (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders, USA), Harry Souttar (Stoke City, England), Adam Taggart (Cerezo Osaka, Japan), Lawrence Thomas (SønderjyskE Fodbold, Denmark), Ruon Tongyik (Central Coast Mariners, Danny Vukovic, (KRC Genk, Belgium.)
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