FIFA World Cup: With 17 first-timers, Australia announces young squad

Australia coach Graham Arnold on Tuesday announced a 26-man squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, favouring young talent over stalwarts.

The squad features 17 players named for their first-ever World Cup.

Teenage sensation Garang Kuol, who will join Premier League side Newcastle United in January, is one of seven squad members from domestic A-League clubs.

Captain and goalkeeper Mathew Ryan is the most experienced member of the squad with 75 caps and is one of two players going to a third World Cup, alongside winger Mathew Leckie.

The Socceroos were among the last teams to qualify for Qatar, beating Peru on penalties in a play-off in June to reach their fifth straight World Cup.

“It’s been a unique and difficult qualification campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad that will do everything to make Australia proud on the world stage,” Arnold said in a statement.

He said over the past four years, 32 players have made their debut for the national team, with 68 players competing during the qualifying campaign, and “every one of them has played a part in getting us here”.

“We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best and I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible.”

Central defender Trent Sainsbury – a standout for the Socceroos at the 2018 World Cup – has been left out, with Arnold instead taking a chance on Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles coming off long-term injuries, reports Xinhua.

Attacking midfielder Ajdin Hrustic has been included despite an ankle injury, while there is no spot for veteran Tom Rogic, who withdrew from the squad for the Peru match due to personal reasons.

The Socceroos have been drawn against reigning champions France, Denmark and Tunisia in the group stage.

The team is expected to arrive in Qatar on Saturday and start training on Monday.

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