Socceroos reveal new-look squad ahead of decisive World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has been forced to name a new-look squad for two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia later this month.

Needing to win both matches to qualify directly for Qatar, Australia have had to bring in some fresh faces with the likes of Nikita Rukavytsya, Adam Taggart and Riley McGree all unavailable.

Star midfielder Aaron Mooy was also ruled out at late notice after testing positive for COVID-19.

Those situations have seen Arnold roll the dice on a few new players including 34-year-old Bruno Fornaroli, who only recently became an Australian citizen.

Nichola D’Agostino, Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles and Giani Stensness are all also chasing their first game in Socceroos colors.

“I am energized by the messages that I have received from the boys over the past two days after they were notified of their selections,” Arnold said.

“That it means as much to a Bruno (Fornaroli), Nathaniel (Atkinson), Nick (D’Agostino), Kye (Rowles), or Gianni (Stensness), players who have yet to take the pitch for Australia, as it does for a Maty (Ryan) or ‘Lecks’ (Mathew Leckie) highlights to me that they can’t wait to be back together to tackle this challenge head on and continue this great journey together.

“This window represents a great opportunity for our players and staff to do something truly special for Australian football, and we will be focusing all our energies on producing two great performances against Japan and Saudi Arabia and lifting the Socceroos to the World Cup.

“But I truly view March 2022 as a win-win window for this group. With a play-off spot for June already locked in, if required, the players will be able to come to camp with clear minds as to what’s ahead of them, and enjoy the time that they have working hard together and playing in front of their family, friends, and fans. ”

Arnold did resist calls to cap Roma youngster Cristian Volpato but has reached out to his father and believes his future could still lie with Australia and not Italy.

“He is a great talent working under a great manager. I’ve spoken to his dad at length – it’s an important decision when he makes it,” Arnold said.

“Is it the right time to throw him in? The answer is no in my opinion.

“I think the appetite (to play for Australia) is there.”

Full Socceroos squad (vs Japan / Saudi Arabia)

Name Team Name Team
Awer Mabil Kasimpasa, Turkey Fran Karacic Brescia, Italy
Aziz Behich Giresunspor, Turkey Connor Metcalfe Melbourne City, Australia
Martin Boyle Al-Faisaly, Saudi Arabia James Jeggo KAS Eupen, Belgium
Milos Degenek Columbus Crew, USA Bruno Fornaroli Perth Glory, Australia
Gianni Stensness Viking FK, Norway Kye Rowles Central Coast Mariners, Australia
Mitch Duke Pheasant Okayama, Japan Jamie Maclaren * Melbourne City, Australia
Marco Tilio Melbourne City, Australia Mathew Ryan (GK) Real Sociedad, Spain
Craig Goodwin Adelaide United, Australia Trent Sainsbury KV Kortrijk, Belgium
Rhyan Grant Sydney FC, Australia Tom Rogic Celtic, Scotland
Ajdin Hrustic Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany Nicholas D’Agostino Melbourne Victory, Australia
Jackson Irvine St Pauli, Germany Andrew Redmayne Sydney FC, Australia
Joel King OB, Norway Danny Vukovic (GK) NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands
Mathew Leckie Melbourne City, Australia Nathaniel Atkinson Hearts, Scotland
Denis Genreau Toulouse, France

* Only available for Japan game

What’s the qualifying situation for the Socceroos?

Currently third in their group, Australia need to win both of their final games if they hope to progress directly to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Should they fail to do that, the Socceroos will once again have to navigate the play-offs against an AFC and CONMEBOL nation.

Unlike four years ago, these matches won’t consist of two legs with single games instead played in Doha.

As things stand, Australia would likely face the UAE with Peru then awaiting the winner of that clash.

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