CANBERRA Australia (Xinhua) --
If he can find the net in Russia later this
month, Australia’s enduring football star Tim Cahill will become
only the fourth player to score in four consecutive FIFA World
in Australia’s squad of 23 players, announced on Sunday,
provides an opportunity for the 38-year-old to join legends Pele,
Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose in achieving the feat - an
astonishing performance given his diminutive stature, and
Australia’s lowly place in the sport’s hierarchy.
But the inclusion of
19-year-old Daniel Arzani - at half Cahill’s age - is the big
surprise in coach Bert van Marwijk’s squad. The Melbourne City
youngster will have a chance to feature in Russia less than five
months after his debut in the country’s premier domestic
competition, the A-League.
Arzani becomes the
youngest Aussie ever to go to a World Cup, and his selection
shapes as a major validation of the A-League after his exploits
with City drew widespread calls for an international call-up.
Maclaren completed a miraculous U-turn to make the final group
after his recall from holiday in Dubai on May 15.
Maclaren had been axed from the initial squad of 27, but was
brought back to cover for injured Tomi Juric as the Socceroos
look to overcome an overreliance on Cahill for goals.
His inclusion boosts
Van Marwijk’s options up front. Maclaren’s poaching instincts
and penchant for getting in behind defenses provides a diverse
option at No. 9, with Juric, Andrew Nabbout and Cahill the other
three players vying to lead the line. Cahill, who stands at just
1.78m, has appeared in eight of Australia’s last ten World Cup
matches, since the country’s qualification in 2006 ended a
32-year World Cup drought.
In a squad that
balances experience and youthful exuberance, only captain Mile
Jedinak and Cahill have more than ten international goals to
their name, with five of Cahill’s 105 goals coming at World Cups
in Germany, South Africa and Brazil.
Massimo Luongo and goalkeeper Mat Ryan are the only other
players to have attended a World Cup before, while selection for
Tom Rogic, Trent Sainsbury, Robbie Kruse and 36-year-old Brad
Jones will make up for the disappointment of missing out on
midfielder, Rogic, who was cut from Australia’s final 2014
tournament squad after a groin injury held him back, has netted
six of his seven international goals in World Cup qualifiers.
The 25-year-old has recently signed a five-year contract
extension with Scottish giants Celtic and is set to play a
pivotal role in the Socceroos’ campaign.
in the world, Australia has to tighten its leaky defense in
order to have any chance of qualifying from Group C, where
free-scoring France are first up on June 16.
With only five clean sheets in the last 19 internationals, EPL
goalkeeper Ryan needs protection. Dutch coach Van Marwijk, who
took over in January after Ange Postecoglou resigned following
qualification, had only overseen three Socceroos matches before
deciding on his final squad, with James Troisi, Josh Brillante,
Nikita Rukavytsya and Fran Karacic cut from the final 23.
“I look to solve
problems, (defensively) I think we have enough players,” van
Marwijk told reporters after announcing the squad on Sunday.
“Now I have more options in front, several types of central
forwards and number nines. I have more players who can play in
more positions. [Arzani’s] improving but he has to learn a lot.”
Nabbout and Aaron Mooy (who also plies his trade in England’s
top division) head to Russia as Australia’s men in form, while
Arzani could hit the headlines given a chance.
The Iranian-born winger could even be the youngest player at the
2018 Russia World Cup if 19-year-old Sebastian Szymanski gets
cut from Poland’s squad, which is set to be announced on Monday
Arzani, Dimitri Petratos and Josh Risdon - who joined the squad
a day after his wedding - are the only three players from the
A-league to be selected, with 13 leagues across the world
represented, including Japan and Israel.
The Socceroos will continue to train in Turkey this week before
heading to Budapest for a friendly against Hungary on June 9 and
then Kazan for their World Cup opener against France.
Ryan (Brighton, England), Brad Jones (Feyenoord, Netherlands),
Danny Vukovic (Genk, Belgium) Defenders: Josh Risdon (Western
Sydney Wanderers), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich,
Switzerland), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Korea),
Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, Turkey), Mark Milligan (Al Ahli, Saudi
Arabia), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F Marinos, Japan), James
Meredith (Millwall, England)
Midfielders: Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, England), Tom Rogic
(Celtic, Scotland), Massimo Luongo (QPR, England), Mile Jedinak
(Aston Villa, England), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets),
Jackson Irvine (Hull City, England), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC,
Germany), Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City)
Forwards: Tim Cahill
(Millwall, England), Tomi Juric (Luzern, Switzerland), Jamie
Maclaren (Hibernian,Scotland), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red
Diamonds, Japan), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, Germany).