Qatar 2022 Team Preview: The Socceroos
Written by Patrick Echatah
Previous World Cup Appearances: 2018
Nickname: The Socceroos
Best finish: Round of 16 (2006)
World Cup record: W2 D4 L10
Biggest win: 2–1
Player to watch: Mathew Leckie
Head Coach: Graham Arnold
Fixtures: France (November 22), Tunisia (November 26), Denmark (November 30)
Australia has qualified for the FIFA World Cupfinals on six occasions: in 1974, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022. The Socceroos have also attempted to qualify through to the FIFA World Cup 15 times, with their first attempt being in 1966 when they lost to North Korea.
Previous World Cup
Australia’s best finish at the FIFA World Cup was in the 2006 World Cup where they lost to eventual champions Italy. The 2006 World Cup marked the high point for Australian football that has remained unmatched for close to two decades.
Australia had previously featured at the 2018 tournament in Russia. Their last appearance was marred by a draw and two defeats in the group stages to France, Hungary and the then-Soviet Union.
Australia will hope to recapture their qualifying form when they begin their World Cup adventure on November 22 against France. Australia’s qualification for the 2022 World Cup was defined by thin margins. A last-minute loss to Japan and a 1-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia late in the qualifying process meant the Socceroos were going to have to fight through multiple playoffs to reach Qatar. This time, the margins tipped in favor of Graham Arnold’s side. Midfielder Ajdin Hrustic scored an 84th-minute winner over the United Arab Emirates in the Asian playoff. Australia qualified for the 2022 World Cup thanks to a penalty shootout win over Peru in the AFC-CONMEBOL play-off final.
Australia’s 2022 World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (FC Copenhagen), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners)
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Dundee United), Milos Degenek (Columbus Crew), Thomas Deng (Aibirex Niigata), Joel King (Odense Boldklub), Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts), Fran Karacic (Brescia), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Kye Rowles (Hearts), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United)
Midfielders: Aaron Mooy (Celtic), Jackson Irvine (St Pauli), Ajdin Hrustic (Hellas Verona), Bailey Wright (Sunderland), Cameron Devlin (Hearts), Riley McGree (Middlesbrough), Keanu Baccus (St Mirren)
Forwards: Awer Mabil (Cadiz), Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), James Maclaren (Melbourne City), Jason Cummings (Central Coast Mariners), Mitchell Duke (Fagiano Okayama), Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)
Read Also – Top 7 Unforgettable FIFA World Cup Matches Of All Time
All eyes on Hrustic
This Australian vintage may lack a standout star of the calibre of Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka or Harry Kewell but, when on song, Ajdin Hrustic can lay claim to being the Socceroos’ top dog in 2022. The creative midfielder, who poses a goal threat from open play as well as set pieces, was an integral part of the qualification campaign and how he responds to an ankle ligament injury sustained while playing for his club Hellas Verona will be key to his country’s hopes in Qatar.
What To Expect
The Socceroos is expected to struggle to make it out of a difficult group that includes Tunisia, France and Denmark but a strong qualifying campaign has raised hopes they could yet punch above their weight.
This isn’t a side with big-name stars like its golden generation of the 2000s, but it’s a team that was able to grind out qualification playing a majority of its matches on the road due to its country’s strict COVID-19 restrictions. Some fresh faces from a winless performance in the 2018 tournament, namely speedy wingers Martin Boyle and Awer Mabil, could inject new life for a nation looking to make the knockout stage for just the second time.
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