Graham Arnold has named his final squad of 26 Socceroos players ahead of the World Cup in Qatar – and while some were on cloud nine following the announcement, there was heartbreak for others.
Excitement machine and squad ‘bolter’ Garang Kuol is poised to show everyone what he can do on the biggest stage – but goalkeeper Mitch Langerak has every reason to feel bemused.
A standout in Japan with Nagoya Grampus – where he was the club’s player of the year – many felt he was a lock.
Langerak even loomed as the first choice for Australia between the sticks in the eyes of some rusted on football fans – but Arnold and his coaching staff disagreed, opting for Mat Ryan, with veterans Andrew the ‘Grey Wiggle’ Redmayne and Danny Vukovic his understudies.
News of Langerak’s glaring omission was met with surprise on Twitter from ex-Socceroos winger Tommy Oar, who accused Arnold and goalkeeping coach John Crawley of giving ‘jobs for the boys’.
‘It’s an absolute wind up,’ Oar, who played 28 times for the Socceroos, tweeted.
Mat Ryan will be Australia’s goalkeeper at the World Cup – despite shaky club form in Denmark with FC Copenhagen
Garang Kuol hasn’t started a professional match in his career – but his x-factor sees him a ‘bolter’ in Arnold’s team
Andrew Redmayne was the unexpected hero for the Socceroos in their epic World Cup qualifying win over Peru in June via a penalty shootout – and he will warm the bench in Qatar
‘Takes jobs for the boys to a whole new level. He’s (Langerak) been one of our best performing players consistently for the last five years and is one of the best blokes you’ll meet, respected by everyone.’
Striker Adam Taggart can also feel hard done by after he was overlooked, with Scottish born Jason Cummings the preferred option as a likely impact player.
Jamie Maclaren and Mitch Duke were always going to get the nod – the Melbourne City striker has scored goals for fun in the A-League the past few weeks – while Duke can do a job in the final third if Arnold opts to play one forward against the likes of France or Denmark.
In the midfield, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine and Mat Leckie would have been picked weeks ago, but Tom Rogic is a controversial omission – despite missing the wins over the UAE and Peru for ‘personal reasons.’
His ability to unlock defences and change a game with a killer pass saw Rogic loom as a handy bench option – but it appears he has fallen down the pecking order.
Fellow UK Championship player – Middlesbrough based Riley McGree is in for Rogic – a like for like replacement.
Veteran Aaron Mooy was a lock and ensured he did enough to be picked after starring for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League
Tom Rogic’s ability to unlock defences and change a game with a killer pass saw him loom as a handy bench option – but he was overlooked
Elsewhere, despite a stuttering campaign with La Liga side Cadiz in Spain, Awer Mabil made the final cut, as did Martin Boyle, who had to prove his fitness.
Arnold’s attacking midfield linchpin Ajdin Hrustic will travel to Qatar – but is carrying an ankle injury.
Cameron Devlin and Keanu Baccus were named as midfielder cover.
Harry Souttar is another favourite of the Socceroos boss – and if proves his fitness, he will start in the heart of defence alongside Kye Rowles or Bailey Wright.
Arnold’s son-in-law, Trent Sainsbury, was overlooked.
He has been training with A-League outfit Melbourne City with his club football in Qatar with Al-Wakrah Sport Club on hiatus – but ultimately didn’t do enough to impress the Socceroos boss.
Should make for an interesting family catch up beyond the World Cup!
Fellow defender Bailey Wright will head to his second World Cup – as will Milos Degenek.
Talented defender Trent Sainsbury (pictured left) is Graham Arnold’s son in law – but family ties weren’t enough to see the 30-year-old on the plane to Qatar
Aziz Behich is expected be the starting left-back ahead of Joel King, with Fran Karacic and Nathaniel Atkinson to fight it out for the right back spot.
‘It has been a unique and difficult qualification campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad which will do everything to make Australia proud on the world stage,’ Arnold said.
‘We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best.
‘And I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible.’
The Socceroos face France in their first match in Qatar on Wednesday, November 23 (6am AEDT) before taking on Tunisia (November 26, 9pm) and Denmark (December 1, 2am.)
Socceroos squad for 2022 World Cup in Qatar: Nathan Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devin, Mitch Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mat Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic and Bailey Wright.