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Australia reveal new-look squad for friendlies ahead of World Cup

Canberra, Sep 14 (IANS) Australia’s head coach Graham Arnold has named a new-look squad on Wednesday for the Socceroos’ two-game friendly series against New Zealand to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Among a list of seven uncapped players in the 31-man squad is 17-year-old Garang Kuol, who is considered Australia’s best young talent.

Kuol made an immediate impact after making his A-League debut for the Central Coast Mariners in April, scoring four goals in his first seven games, and has been linked with a move to the Premier League.

He joined the squad with Mariners teammate Jason Cummings, who was born in Scotland but is eligible to play for the Socceroos, reports Xinhua.

Scotland-based Keanu Baccus, Ryan Strain, Cameron Devlin, U23 captain Tyrese Francois and defender Harrison Delbridge could also make their Socceroos debuts.

“This camp is the last opportunity we will have to work with the squad ahead of November’s FIFA World Cup, and all players are competing for a spot in the final squad which will be announced in early November,” Arnold said in a media release.

“With two games in four days, this camp provides us with a unique opportunity to bring in some new players who can push for selection ahead of the World Cup.”

Japan-based goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, who has made eight Socceroos appearances, has announced his return to international football after retiring in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I had made the decision to retire, we were in the middle of strict lockdowns in Japan and at the time, I was facing the prospect of spending months away from my wife and young children, so I had to make the hard call to step away from international football for my family,” he said.

“I am humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to represent the Socceroos again.”

Australia will play New Zealand in Brisbane on September 22 and in Auckland on September 25.

The Socceroos beat Peru on penalties in the intercontinental playoff in June to qualify for the World Cup where they will face France, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.

–IANS

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