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Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has again put the spotlight on the late October kick-off for the A-League Men, saying Melbourne Victory pair Bruno Fornaroli and Daniel Arzani were denied a call-up for next week’s World Cup qualifiers because of it.
Fornaroli leads the league with six goals from three games while Arzani has regained confidence in his touch and attacking skills. However, neither could be named despite their recent strong form because they were absent from the extended squad required by the Asian Football Confederation a month out from FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Victory’s Bruno Fornaroli (right) has had a hot start to the A-League Men season.Credit: Getty Images
The final squad must come from that list.
Fornaroli is an Australian citizen, having been born in Uruguay, and his age, 36, was thought to be counting against him. But Arnold instead lamented that Fornaroli’s purple patch had come too late for this qualifying window.
“No one is ruled out,” Arnold said on Thursday.
“Maybe if Bruno had ended last season the way he started it, then I probably would have watched him even closer but, you know, he’s had a fantastic start of the season.
“Under ‘Poppa’ [Victory coach Tony Popovic], he is doing a great job, so is Daniel Arzani, but he didn’t finish last season that way with [former club] Macarthur and that long off-season [June to October], it hurts those players, and it hurts [their chances of call-ups] for those windows in September, October and November.”
The Socceroos host Bangladesh at AAMI Park on Thursday at 8pm (AEDT) and then face Palestine in Kuwait the following Tuesday (November 21). The Israel-Hamas conflict has made it impossible for Palestine to play at home.
Arnold, who will break Frank Farina’s record as longest-serving Socceroos coach, omitted veteran defender Milos Degenek and creative midfielder Ajdin Hrustic as neither are playing for their clubs, while young Portsmouth striker Kusini Yengi received his first call-up.
Specialist penalty stopper Andrew Redmayne, known as the “Grey Wiggle”, was left out after a rough start to the season at Sydney FC, with emerging Charlton Athletic keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer and Adelaide United keeper Joe Gauci selected.
Kusini Yengi (centre) has been called up by the Socceroos.Credit: Getty Images
“Finally, we can see Gauci play again as the A-League has started – I’ve seen three rounds,” Arnold said.
“I want you to understand I had to send out my long list two days after our England game [on October 14] so the A-League hadn’t started, there are players not in the squad that could probably feel a little hard done by.”
But Arnold refused to rule out a recall for Redmayne, although Gauci and Maynard-Brewer will make that tough if they keep up their form.
“I know ‘Redders’ well and he is 34, 35 years of age but he has shown that when you need him for a tournament he does well,” Arnold said.
“We are looking at not, just the next six months, but the next four years as well. Young Gauci has done exceptionally well, Maynard-Brewer is playing every week at Charlton, so it’s important we get the players who are in form.”
Football Australia expects Palestine will draw a large, partisan crowd in Kuwait but Arnold said his side would focus on the goal of claiming two crucial wins in the journey towards making the 2026 World Cup.
“It’s horrific what is going on in Israel and Palestine,” Arnold said. “But my focus is first and foremost on Bangladesh before we get across to Kuwait.”
Socceroos squad: Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (captain), Joe Gauci, Ashley Maynard-Brewer*.
Defenders: Aziz Behich, Jordy Bos, Cameron Burgess, Alessandro Circati, Lewis Miller, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Ryan Strain.
Midfielders: Keanu Baccus, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Connor Metcalfe, Aiden O’Neill.
Forwards: Brandon Borrello, Martin Boyle, Mitch Duke, Craig Goodwin, Jamie Maclaren, Sam Silvera, Kusini Yengi*.
* = uncapped
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