Bert van Marwijk has named a 32-man provisional Australia squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, keeping alive Tim Cahill’s dream of emulating Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose and handing maiden call-ups to youngsters Daniel Arzani and Fran Karacic.
The 65-year-old’s selection featured all 26 players on duty for the most recent friendlies against Norway and Colombia, including big names such as Matt Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Matthew Leckie and Robbie Kruse. Among the six additions were 19-year-old creator Arzani and 21-year-old Karacic, a Croatia-born, Croatia-based right-back who has never played in Australia.
Cahill has seen very little playing time at Millwall in 2018 – something a suspension hasn’t helped. The 38-year-old is vying to become just the fourth player to score in four consecutive World Cups.
Van Marwijk, who guided the Netherlands to the South Africa 2010 Final, only assumed the Socceroos’ reins in January, replacing Ange Postecoglou. He plans to trim his squad to 26 players on 14 May, five days before they embark on a training camp in Turkey. Another three players will then suffer in Van Marwijk’s final cut.
Australia face France, Denmark and Peru in Group C. They will play friendlies against Czech Republic and Hungary before their curtain-raiser in Russia.
“I am not a person who changes all the time and we thought for a long time about the first squad that we selected,” said Van Marwijk. “I had a good experience with the 26 players in the ten days that I worked with them, so I had no reason not to nominate them again. But we have since seen other players, so there will be a few new names in the squad.”After the 0-0 draw with Colombia on 27 March, Van Marwijk and his squad travelled extensively – across Asia, Europe and Oceania – to check on players.
“We have travelled extensively and watched many, many matches because we want to get as much information on as many players as possible,” Van Marwijk explained. “I am looking forward to the time in Turkey because there I will be able to work with the players every day, and most of the time it will be two times a day. In those few weeks it must be very clear for the players what we want [at Russia 2018].”
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk), Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus)
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Bluewings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshoppers Zurich), Aleksandar Susnjar (Mlada Boleslav), Bailey Wright (Bristol City), Alex Gersbach (Lens), Fran Karacic (Lokomotiva Zagreb)
Midfielders: Josh Brillante (Sydney FC), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa, Mark Milligan (Al Ahli-KSA), Robbie Kruse (Bochum), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory).
Forwards: Tim Cahill (Millwall), Tomi Juric (FC Luzern), Mattew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian), Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca).
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