The World Cup selection dreams of a host of Socceroos players will be either realised or dashed on Tuesday when national coach Graham Arnold announces his 26-man squad for Qatar 2022. It won’t be an easy task due to injuries and a lack of first-team football for some key players. However, Socceroos great Robbie Slater has settled on a squad he thinks will best carry Australia’s hopes on the world stage.

GOALKEEPERS

Mat Ryan

Despite his move to Denmark from Spain in the search of regular first-team football not having gone to plan, Ryan remains Australia’s first-choice keeper, and don’t forget that he’s also our skipper.

Mitchell Langerak

After another excellent season in between the posts for his Japanese club Nagoya Grampus, Langerak must go to the World Cup now that he has ended his retirement from international football. Will definitely have Ryan looking over his shoulder.

Andrew Redmayne

Following his penalty-shootout heroics in June’s World Cup playoff against Peru, Redmayne is part of Australian sporting folklore and deserves to be among the three keepers going to Qatar. He has also been in solid form for Sydney FC.

DEFENDERS

Harry Souttar

Graham Arnold has massive wraps on towering centre-back Souttar, and rightly so. There is obvious concern due to his lack of football after requiring a knee construction, but at least he has played some games recently for Stoke City’s under-21 team.

Trent Sainsbury

With the Qatar Stars League finishing early to allow the host nation to prepare for the World Cup, Al-Wakrah centre-back Sainsbury will need all his experience to make an impact in the tournament.

Bailey Wright

The Sunderland defender sealed his spot in the World Cup squad after emerging as an unlikely hero of the Socceroos’ successful playoffs campaign in June in the heart of Australia’s defence alongside Rowles.

Milos Degenek

Degenek has always proved to be reliable and serviceable in a Socceroos jersey, and has played a decent amount of football this year for his American Major League Soccer club Columbus Crew.

Aziz Behich

An underrated hero of the Socceroos’ World Cup playoffs campaign, Behich is clearly Australia’s first-choice left-back. He has also been in solid form for his Scottish club Dundee United.

Joel King

The Denmark-based former Sydney FC young gun will provide the back-up to Behich at left-back, with his superior defending giving him the nod over the more attacking-minded Jason Davidson.

Fran Karacic

Right fullback is a position that is truly up for grabs in Australia’s best XI, with the dependable Italy-based Karacic, who grows in confidence with every Socceroos appearance, among the top two contenders.

Nathaniel Atkinson

The former Melbourne City defender is Karacic’s rival for the right-back spot. If Graham Arnold opts for a more attacking option, Atkinson – whose move to Scottish club Hearts has paid dividends – is your man.

MIDFIELDERS

Jackson Irvine

Among the first few players on Australia’s team sheet, Irvine has established himself as the rock of the Socceroos’ midfield. He’s not afraid to do the dirty work but also has the class to get himself in vital positions in the opposition’s penalty area.

Aaron Mooy

Regular football at Celtic under Ange Postecoglou, albeit not always as a starter, has Mooy hopefully ready to weave some magic in Qatar. Showed his class and grit during the World Cup playoffs in June on the back of very little football.

Ajdin Hrustic

An unfortunate injury means Hrustic will go into the World Cup with not enough football under his belt, but the Italy-based playmaker is worth the gamble such is his class and ability to produce a game-breaking moment.

Tom Rogic

He has barely played enough football in the past six months, but Rogic should go to the World Cup, if at the very least as insurance for the currently injured Hrustic. With World Cup squads being increased to 26, it allows room for the former Celtic star.

Riley McGree

The former Adelaide United star needs to be playing more often for his club side Middlesbrough, but McGree makes the World Cup squad as he offers something a little bit different to the rest of Australia’s midfield.

Cameron Devlin

The former Wellington Phoenix midfielder’s move to Scottish club Hearts has proven to be a huge success, and should get him a spot in the squad ahead of Denis Genreau and Connor Metcalfe, who both aren’t playing enough first-team football.

ATTACKERS

Martin Boyle

It would be a huge setback for the Socceroos if Boyle – our best attacking weapon – can’t recover from his knee problem in time for the World Cup. Even if he’s not ready for our first game against France, he must be in the squad.

Mathew Leckie

With two World Cups already under his belt, Leckie’s experience, encouraging A-League form, and ability to play out wide and centrally in attack makes him an important part of Australia’s plans in Qatar.

Awer Mabil

His move to Spain hasn’t led to regular first-team football, but Mabil remains the Socceroos’ best option on the left wing. His confidence also remains high after scoring a memorable goal against New Zealand in September.

Craig Goodwin

Despite missing the September series against New Zealand because osteitis pubis, Adelaide star Goodwin has followed his recovery plan perfectly and will take some fine A-League form with him to Qatar

Mitchell Duke

Duke’s ongoing commitment to the Socceroos’ cause can’t be questioned. Can be used as a battering ram in attack and he also has the ability to get himself into some glorious goal-scoring positions.

Jamie Maclaren

Earns a spot in the squad due to his excellent A-League goal-scoring form over several seasons. The Melbourne City marksman is yet to show he can have a similar impact at international level, but he deserves a spot in the 26.

Adam Taggart

A mix of Duke and Maclaren, Taggart has had an unfortunate run of injuries in recent years, and that has cost him Socceroos appearances. Qatar could be the stage for the former Jets, Glory and Roar striker that he’s Australia’s best option at centre-forward.

Jason Cummings

You want in-form players at a World Cup, particularly when preparation is limited, and there’s no doubting the A-League form of Cummings. He has already shown he isn’t overawed in a Socceroos jersey, and that confidence and belief in himself will be crucial in Qatar.

Garang Kuol

Kuol is the Socceroos’ wildcard. He’s only 18, but that doesn’t matter. His class has earned him a contract with English Premier League side Newcastle, and his combination at club level with Cummings will be to Australia’s advantage. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *