A-League: World Cup hopefuls must strike form early

A-League players have just two rounds to convince Socceroos coach Graham Arnold they should be in serious consideration for Australia’s World Cup squad.

Football Australia must submit a 55-man preliminary Socceroos World Cup squad to FIFA by October 18.

No players from outside those 55 – most of which are likely to from overseas clubs – can be named in Australia’s final 26-man squad for the World Cup, which starts in Qatar on November 20.

It leads to the potential scenario of an A-League player having an ordinary opening two weeks of the season and then starring in the following three weeks before the 26-man squad is finalised on November 8, but missing selection because he found form too late.

“I know the players have only got a couple of weeks to impress, but they have to hit the ground running,” Arnold said ahead of the start of the A-League season this Friday night, when Western United and Melbourne City meet in a grand final rematch.

“Their fitness and their form will be crucial. I’ll be watching and re-watching the games.

“It’s a big step going from friendly games to important games where you’re playing for points. Then it’s a big step going from the A-League to international football.”

Six A-League players – Melbourne City trio Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie and Marco Tilio, Central Coast Mariners pair Jason Cummings and Garang Kuol, and Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne – were in the Socceroos squad for last month’s two-match series against New Zealand.

Teenage attacker Kuol is now on the books of English Premier League club Newcastle United but will remain with the Mariners until January.

Other A-League players with varying hopes of Socceroos selection at least in the preliminary World Cup squad are Melbourne Victory trio Nick D’Agostino, Ben Folami and Chris Ikonomidis, Melbourne City defender Curtis Good, Western Sydney Wanderers forward Brandon Borrello, Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, Adelaide United winger Craig Goodwin and Macarthur FC playmaker Daniel Arzani.

Goodwin, who scored a penalty in the thrilling shootout against Peru which secured Australia World Cup qualification in June, would have been in the squad for last month’s matches against New Zealand if not for a groin injury.

Former prodigy Arzani, who was a member of the Socceroos’ 2018 World Cup squad in Russia, looms as a wildcard, having returned to the A-League to join Macarthur FC after four frustrating years overseas.

Arzani – who had been on the books of Manchester City during a European spell which included loan stints in Scotland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium – impressed during Macarthur’s run to the Australia Cup crown.

Leave a Reply

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