Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold has confirmed his 29-man roster for the pivotal play-off campaign in Doha, with striker Adam Taggart returning from injury on a mission to send Australia to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Taggart has been named for next month’s pivotal Asian play-off against the United Arab Emirates in Qatar, along with returning stars Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Jackson Irvine. It is Taggart’s first call-up to the national team since October, when a knee injury threatened the 28-year-old out of the second half of Australia’s group stage matches.
In his absence, the group’s Socceroos moved up to third place behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, forcing them to play the June 7 play-off against the UAE. The winner of that match will face South American Peru on June 13 to secure a place in Group D with France, Denmark and Tunisia at this year’s World Cup, to be held from November 21 to December 18. .
“It was frustrating, of course, after such a positive and strong campaign until the last few camps, but these things happen. It’s football,” Taggart told AAP. “This is the challenge we now have before us. As frustrating as those camps and the results were, we just have to see it as a huge opportunity, an exciting opportunity.
“It’s kind of an all-or-nothing scenario that we’re in,” Taggart said. “It’s just important to get in there, make the most of it and enjoy it and make sure we get to the World Cup. You can’t dwell on what’s happened in recent games, there’s still plenty to play for… we just need to make sure the way we look at it is in a positive way.”
Arnold has named nine players who were not involved in the most recent qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia when a side hit hard by withdrawals from COVID-19 and injuries lost consecutive games.
There are returns for Adelaide winger Craig Goodwin, Melbourne City forward Mathew Leckie and Central Coast defender Kye Rowles along with Taggart, Mooy, Rogic and Irvine. Melbourne Victory fullback Jason Davidson has also been selected and could make his first Socceroos appearance since 2015.
In addition to Taggart, Arnold’s strike force is boosted by the return of A-League Men’s golden boot winner Jamie Maclaren after missing the match in Saudi Arabia in March to get married. Ajdin Hrustic is also joining the camp after his recent Europa League win with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Those calls, however, mean there is no place for Uruguay-born forward Bruno Fornaroli after his much-discussed debut in March. Connor Metcalfe, Ben Folami, James Jeggo and Rhyan Grant are others to miss. Arnold also overlooked Johnny Warren medalist Jake Brimmer and Scottish-born Central Coast forward Jason Cummings.
Australia is warming up for their must-win match against the UAE with a friendly against Jordan in Doha on Wednesday (4am AEST Thursday), with players arriving in the Qatari capital over the next three days.
The Socceroos’ qualifying path to this World Cup began in September 2019 with a 3-0 win over Kuwait in Kuwait City. Now, after 18 games, 12 wins and 43 goals, Australia’s journey to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup Final culminates with these play-offs against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Peru over the next two weeks.
“Our qualifying journey for this year’s World Cup was challenging, but the greater the challenge, the greater the reward,” Arnold said. “As in 2017 and 2005, I am confident that our boys will make it through the play-off system and seal Australia a place in the World Cup”
“We have selected a large roster for this period for a number of reasons, but primarily because so many of our players have been on top form for their clubs in recent months. In addition, with several players showing yellow cards to the UAE competition, we had to make sure we had coverage in every area to make sure we didn’t come up short at any point.
“I heard Rale Rasic say recently that the ‘Socceroos’ story is always a super story,” so in the 100e year of our national team, there could be no better way for this group of players and staff to honor those who have gone before them than by writing another proud chapter in the history books through FIFA World Cup™ qualification,” he concluded.
The Socceroos roster for June 2022 consists of a series of players who will enter the camp having recently achieved individual and/or club honors. Ajdin Hrustic took the Europa League champions this month with Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville, while Tom Rogic won the Scottish Premier League with Celtic FC and Australia Men’s Football of the Year award.
Denis Genreau helped his club, FC Toulouse, to the Ligue 2 title in France and was also named PFA’s Young Player of the Year this week. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Atkinson was featured in the Scottish Cup Final, Joel King was an unused substitute in the Danish Cup Final, and Bailey Wright played a leading role in helping his side, Sunderland AFC, secure promotion to the English Championship. at Wembley.
And three players on the squad will play in the A-League Men’s Grand Final tonight, with Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio having the potential to go into the Socceroos camp on cloud nine if they beat Western United FC at AAMI Park .
Nathaniel Atkinson, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Nicholas D’Agostino, Jason Davidson, Milos Degenek, Kenny Dougall, Mitch Duke, Denis Genreau, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Tom Rogic, Kye Rowles, Maty Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Gianni Stensness, Adam Taggart, Marco Tilio, Danny Vukovic, Bailey Wright.