Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has gone on the offensive after the announcement of the World Cup squad raised eyebrows.
Fans were up in arms over several stars being left out of the team, the biggest snub of all being goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.
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The likes of Langerak, defender Trent Sainsbury and veteran striker Adam Taggart as well as Tom Rogic were all surprises, while youngsters such as Garang Kuol, cult hero Jason Cummings and midfielder Keanu Baccus were all included.
Langerak, 34, is in career-best form for Nagoya Grampus in Japan and has played the most minutes of any Australian goalkeepers playing in top-flight football leagues.
Instead, Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic and Sydney FC’s Andrew Redmayne are the two back-up keepers.
Redmaybe became known as the ‘Grey Wiggle’ for his heroics in the penalty shootout win over Peru earlier this year that sealed the Socceroos’ qualification in a fifth straight FIFA World Cup.
“It’s the process we go through, I’d rather look at the positives. It’s a decision that’s been made. We believe we’ve picked the three best goalkeepers for the World Cup and that’s what we’re sticking to,” Arnold said on the omission of Langerak.
Arnold immediately went on the attack after backlash to the 26-man squad, slamming the critics and turning the blowtorch onto the media for focusing on the negative.
“That’s the way Australian media are these days, it’s all about the negativity,” Arnold told SEN’s Sportsday.
“But for me, it’s about the positivity of the young kids, the next generation.
“Of course, we’re coming up against some great opponents but the only way you can upset those opponents is by having players that can run all day, fight all day, the old Aussie DNA.
“That is when you go out on that pitch you’ve got to win the one-vs-one battles, it’s 11 vs 11 but at the same time you’ve got to be able to compete physically with them to be able to get the result.”
Arnold faces several selection dilemmas as he finalises his squad for the World Cup.
Teen sensation Garang Kuol is likely to edge out Marco Tilio as an ‘impact player’ pick, while CODE Sports reports fan favourite Jason Cummings is set to be an X-factor inclusion at striker alongside Jamie Maclaren and Mitch Duke.
Australia’s World Cup campaign gets underway on November 22 against France in Group D.
Australian 2022 FIFA World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Andrew Redmayne
Defenders: Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Fran Karacic, Nathaniel Atkinson, Thomas Deng, Bailey Wright, Joel King, Keanu Bacchus
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy, Ajdin Hrustic, Riley McGree, Cameron Devlin
Attackers: Jamie Maclaren, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Garang Kuol, Craig Goodwin, Mitchell Duke, Jason Cummings, Mat Leckie