Graham Arnold has named his final roster of 26 Socceroos players for the World Cup in Qatar – and while some were overjoyed at the announcement, others were heartbroken.
Exciting machine and squad ‘bolter’ Garang Kuol is ready to show everyone what he can do on the biggest podium – but goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has every reason to feel stunned.
A standout in Japan with Nagoya Grampus – where he was the club’s player of the year – many felt he was a lock.
Langerak even loomed as Australia’s first choice between the sticks in the eyes of some rusty football fans – but Arnold and his coaching staff disagreed, opting for Mat Ryan, with veterans Andrew the ‘Grey Wiggle’ Redmayne and Danny Vukovic are students.
News of Langerak’s blatant omission was taken on Twitter by ex-Socceroos winger Tommy Oar, who accused Arnold and goalkeeping coach John Crawley of giving ‘jobs to the boys’.
“It’s an absolute wind-up,” tweeted Oar, who played 28 times for the Socceroos.
Mat Ryan becomes Australia’s goalkeeper at the World Cup – despite the shaky club form in Denmark with FC Copenhagen
Garang Kuol hasn’t started a professional match in his career – but his x-factor sees him a ‘bolter’ in Arnold’s team
Andrew Redmayne was the unexpected hero for the Socceroos in their epic World Cup victory over Peru in June via penalty kicks – and he will warm up the bench in Qatar
Take jobs for the boys to a whole new level. He (Langerak) has been consistently one of our top performers for the past five years and is one of the best guys you’ll meet, respected by all.”
Striker Adam Taggart could also struggle after being overlooked, with Scottish-born Jason Cummings the preferred option as a likely impact player.
Jamie Maclaren and Mitch Duke would always get the wink – the Melbourne City striker scored for fun in the A-League in recent weeks – while Duke could get a job done in the final third if Arnold chooses to play one against such as France or Denmark.
In midfield, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine and Mat Leckie would have been chosen weeks ago, but Tom Rogic is a controversial omission – despite missing out on victories over the UAE and Peru for ‘personal reasons’.
His ability to unlock defenses and change a game with a killer pass saw Rogic emerge as a handy banking option, but it looks like he’s fallen into the pecking order.
Fellow UK Championship player – Middlesbrough’s Riley McGree is in for Rogic – a similar replacement.
Veteran Aaron Mooy was a lock and made sure he did enough to get elected after starring for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League
Tom Rogic’s ability to unlock defenses and change a game with a killer pass saw him emerge as a handy banking option – but he was overlooked
Elsewhere, despite a stuttering campaign with La Liga side Cadiz in Spain, Awer Mabil made the final cut, as did Martin Boyle, who had to prove his fitness.
Arnold’s attacking midfielder Ajdin Hrustic will travel to Qatar but has an ankle injury.
Cameron Devlin and Keanu Baccus were named as midfielder cover.
Harry Souttar is another favorite of the Socceroos boss – and if he proves his fitness, he will start at the heart of the defense alongside Kye Rowles or Bailey Wright.
Arnold’s son-in-law, Trent Sainsbury, was overlooked.
He trained with A-League outfit Melbourne City with his club football in Qatar with Al-Wakrah Sport Club on hiatus – but ultimately didn’t do enough to impress the Socceroos boss.
Should make for an interesting family catch up after the World Cup!
Fellow defender Bailey Wright is heading to his second World Cup, as is Milos Degenek.
Talented defender Trent Sainsbury (pictured left) is Graham Arnold’s son-in-law – but family ties weren’t enough to see the 30-year-old on the plane to Qatar
Aziz Behich is expected to be the starting left-back for Joel King, with Fran Karacic and Nathaniel Atkinson to battle it out for the right-back position.
“It has been a unique and difficult qualifying campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad that will do everything they can to make Australia proud on the world stage,” said Arnold.
“We’ve worked hard to give younger players a chance during the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best.
“And I’m very happy with the development and maturity of this group that now gets a chance on the largest possible stage.”
The Socceroos will face France in their first game in Qatar on Wednesday, November 23 (6am AEDT), before taking on Tunisia (November 26 at 9pm) and Denmark (December 1 at 2am).
Socceroos squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar: Nathan Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devin, Mitch Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mat Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic and Bailey Wright.