Star Australian goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has been left out of the Socceroos’ World Cup squad in a shock selection call.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold also dropped his son-in-law Trent Sainsbury for the Qatar tournament.
Sainsbury, 30, plays for Qatari club Al-Wakrah, and has been a regular in the Socceroos team and played at the 2018 World Cup.
He missed the playoffs against the UAE and Peru through injury, and has not played a game of club football since August because of the Qatar off season.
Harry Souttar, who is returning from a serious knee injury with Stoke, and Kye Rowles were both selected and look set to start in the centre of defence.
“It was a very, very difficult decision. I spoke to Trent about where he’s at at this moment in time. He hasn’t played for a number of weeks,” said Arnold, who’s daughter is married to Sainsbury.
“Overall I’ve gone for players like Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles who have done exceptionally well and continue to do exceptionally well. Trent was very understanding of the situation but it’s a decision that was very hard to make.”
Three goalkeepers will be included in the Socceroos’ squad for the World Cup in Qatar, which begins later this month.
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Captain Mat Ryan is a lock to get first crack in goal for Australia’s group stage games against France, Denmark and Tunisia despite being dropped by his club side F.C. Copenhagen and recently suffering a minor knee injury.
The Socceroos’ final 26-man squad has been announced and there were some surprises.
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.
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
Langerak sparked the most intrigue as his omission set tongues wagging this morning.
The 34-year-old 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 appear set to be selected as 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.
After stepping away from the Socceroos last year, Langerak made himself available for international selection following a plea from Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.
He was picked for two friendlies against New Zealand in September but did not get any game time.
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 — with Adam Taggart set to be the unlucky one to miss out.
Australia’s World Cup campaign gets underway on November 22 against France in Group D.