Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold today named the 31 players selected to represent Australia in the Middle East throughout May and June, as the nation’s quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ edges closer to a restart.
The Socceroos commenced their path to next year’s FIFA World Cup™ in September 2019, however due to the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic the squad have not been able to build on their winning start to qualifying since November 2019 when the team recorded an historic victory away to Jordan in Amman.
Arnold’s squad for Australia’s final four Round 2, Group B Asian qualifying fixtures against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal, and Jordan in Kuwait City features a truly international blend of players plying their trade at clubs across Europe, Asia, and Australia, with a total of 17 different leagues from across the globe represented in the Socceroos’ squad for the forthcoming FIFA window.
In the proud and fabled 99-year history of Australia’s senior men’s football team just 606 footballers have represented Australia at ‘A’ international level, however that number could increase by up to seven over the coming weeks as several uncapped players join the Socceroos in the Gulf.
A-League-based stars Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe, and Ruon Tongyik are among the uncapped contingent called up for the matches, alongside Fran Karacic from Italy’s Seria B, Kenneth Dougall from England’s League One, Riley McGree from England’s Championship, and goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas from Denmark’s Superliga. 11 of the 31 players in the squad have arrived in the Middle East to begin to prepare and acclimatise ahead of next month’s fixtures.
Six more players will join the Socceroos at varying stages over the coming week as they complete their individual club commitments, while the remaining 14 players will assemble with the squad either just prior to the team’s transit to Kuwait, or in Kuwait City itself.
Australia Head Coach Graham Arnold said he’s delighted with the make-up of his squad for June’s qualifiers, and is ecstatic that after 18 months of men’s national team inactivity the Socceroos’ family is finally coming back together. “I am very happy with the players that have arrived, and will continue to arrive, to represent the Socceroos in our final four Round 2 qualifiers,” Arnold said. “We’ve selected a balanced squad that combines youth and experience, but also one that rewards players for their outstanding performances at their clubs over the past six to twelve months.”
“I have said many times that I believe that the strength of the Socceroos is through its young players. Along with my staff, I can’t wait to work with the many fresh faces in this squad as we continue to build the depth of the national team. Equally so, we are excited to work with the experienced and senior players we will have with us, as together we strive to advance to the next round of qualifying with eight wins on our record. “Our extended 31 player squad will provide us with the flexibility and adaptability that we will need given we will play four matches in 12 days, and the acclimatisation and preparation period that half of our squad will have here in the UAE will be crucial ahead of the first two games in Kuwait.
“It is no secret that we had originally targeted to name this squad last week, however some challenges with COVID, as well as some injuries and personal circumstances, have meant some players were ruled out of the final reckoning. We have communicated at length with those players and will continue to support them individually as they strive to return to the Socceroos later in the year,” he said.
The Socceroos will swap the UAE for the Kuwait hub on May 31 and will play their final four Group B qualifiers on June 3, 7, 11, and 15 (local time). Full match details and broadcast details can be found below.
Match 1: Australia v Kuwait Date: Thursday, 3 June 2021 Venue: Jaber Al-Hamed Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait Kick-off: 9:30pm (local) – 4:30am Friday, 4 June 2021 AEST Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App
Match 2: Australia v Chinese Taipei Date: Monday, 7 June 2021 Venue: Jaber Al-Hamed Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait Kick-off: 7:30pm (local) – 2:30am Tuesday, 8 June 2021 AEST Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App
Match 3: Nepal v Australia Date: Friday, 11 June 2021 Venue: Kuwait SC Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait Kick-off: 7:30pm (local) – 2:30am Saturday, 12 June 2021 AEST Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, SBS TV, and My Football Live App
Match 4: Australia v Jordan Date: Tuesday, 15 June 2021 Venue: Kuwait SC Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait Kick-off: 9:30pm (local) – 4:30am Wednesday, 16 June 2021 AEST Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App