Ange Postecoglou names 30-man Socceroos squad for critical World Cup qualifiers

Daniel Jeffrey Editor

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    Ange Postecoglou has unveiled an initial 30-man Socceroos squad for their crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Thailand.

    Captain Mile Jedinak has been named in the squad despite concerns around the midfielder’s fitness, while five uncapped players – Matthew Jurman, James Jeggo, Awer Mabil, Riley McGree and Danny Vukovic – were also included by Postecoglou.

    With 22 squad members having played in the Confederations Cup earlier in the year, Postecoglou said he is confident in the side he’s selected.

    “We haven’t strayed too far from the players who went to the Confederations Cup and who we have had on the radar for a while, so not a great deal of change at this stage,” said Postecoglou.

    “There are a few new faces as well to have a look at, but overall pretty pleased with the shape we are in.”

    Currently sitting in third place in their qualifying group, trailing ladder-leaders Japan by a single point and second-placed Saudi Arabia on goal difference, the Socceroos are precariously placed heading into their final two matches.

    The first of those remaining games – against Japan at Saitama Stadium on August 31 – looms as the most important Australian World Cup qualifier in recent memory.

    “It is going to be a great challenge playing away from home against one of the top nations but that’s what we like to embrace as a team,” Postecoglou said.

    “We are looking forward to going over there and hopefully getting three points which will put us in great shape for qualification.”

    The following match against Thailand at AAMI Park does, on the face of it, appear to be the perfect final fixture for the Socceroos, and Postecoglou said he’s hoping to see a strong Melbourne crowd show up to help the side home after they slipped up with a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in Bangkok.

    “Wherever we have played away from home in this group there have been large crowds to support the home team which definitely makes a difference and we want the same in Melbourne.

    “I know the players look forward to it. There is nothing better than playing on home soil, in front of a big crowd and hopefully getting a good win.”

    Should the side finish in the top two spots of their group, they will be guaranteed a place in next year’s World Cup in Russia. However if they finish in their current third position, they’ll be forced to go through a series of play-offs.

    The first of those play-offs will come against the third-placed team from the AFC’s other qualifying group, the next against the fourth-placed side from the CONCACAF (Central and Northern American Conference) qualifying group.

    The current 30-man squad will be trimmed down to 23 players next Wednesday, August 23, before the side assembles in Tokyo the following Sunday, August 27.

    Socceroos squad for World Cup qualifiers vs Japan and Thailand

    Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Adam Federici, Alex Gersbach, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Tomi Juric, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Ryan McGowan, Riley McGree, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, James Troisi, Daniel Vukovic, Bailey Wright.

    AFC Group B World Cup qualifying standings

    P W D L F A GD PTS
    Japan 8 5 2 1 15 6 9 17
    Saudi Arabia 8 5 1 2 15 8 7 16
    AUSTRALIA 8 4 4 0 14 8 6 16
    United Arab Emirates 8 3 1 4 8 11 -3 10
    Iraq 8 1 2 5 8 11 -3 5
    Thailand 8 0 2 6 4 20 -16 2
    Daniel Jeffrey
    Daniel Jeffrey

    Daniel is Editor of The Roar. You can catch him on Twitter @_d_jeffrey.