AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ Squad Notes: Maiden call-ups, Potential debutants and returning players

Graham Arnold announced his Subway Socceroos 26-man squad for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™.

Consequently, we look at the main story lines to derive from the Head Coach's squad selections which features several stalwarts, familiar faces as well as a few surprise inclusions due to a number of Socceroos unavailable through injury.

Australia kicks off their campaign in Doha next month eager to build on the momentum created over the past 12 months which included a best-ever FIFA World Cup™ finish as well strong performances against several nations ranked inside the top 12.

The squad features just three players who were part of the previous edition of the Asian Cup in 2019, being Maty Ryan, Aziz Behich and Jackson Irvine, while the former two will be heading to their third tournament after winning the trophy in 2015.

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Meanwhile, the aforementioned trio along with a further nine players were involved in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ squad.

The Aussies will take on India on Saturday, 13 January before facing Syria and Uzbekistan after being placed in Group B. All matches will kick off at 10:30pm AEDT with coverage LIVE and FREE on Australia's home of football, Network 10.  

Returning Players

In a huge boost for the Subway Socceroos, Riley McGree has been named after sustaining a foot injury with club Middlesbrough in early October, which forced him to withdraw from the matches against England and New Zealand during that month's FIFA Men's International window. 

The 25-year-old midfielder has 18 caps and one goal for his country.

Riley McGree

Nathaniel Atkinson is also back from injury having last featured for the Subway Socceroos against Mexico back in September. 

The right-back suffered a serious ankle injury with Scottish outfit Hearts in late September but has played in two of the previous three matches. Like McGree, this will be Atkinson's second major tournament and will hope to add to his eight caps. 

Having been called up as a train on player for the October window in London, Viking FK midfielder Patrick Yazbek has been named as one of the 26. The young midfielder enjoyed a breakout season in Norway's top flight and will gain valuable experience as the second youngest in the squad at 21.

Meanwhile, winger Marco Tilio and defender Thomas Deng return having last featured for the Green and Gold earlier this year in March against Ecuador. Tilio has made two appearances for Celtic after a long-awaited comeback from injury and was part of the Subway Olyroos camp in Saudi Arabia last month.

Deng enjoyed a solid campaign in the J1 League with Albirex Niigata, starting 21 of 26 league games for the club. 

Bruno Fornaroli

Veteran forward Bruno Fornaroli played himself into selection following a scintillating start to the Isuzu UTE A-League season with Melbourne Victory. The 36-year-old has scored a phenomenal 12 goals in eight matches, including two four-goal hauls. 

Born in Uruguay, Fornaroli attained Australian citizenship and featured twice for his adopted country in March 2022 against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas returns to the national team set up for the first time since November 2021. The 31-year-old made his debut in June 2021 as a late substitute against Nepal in what remains his solitary cap.

Maiden Call-ups

Bolton Wanderers defender Gethin Jones has received his inaugural Socceroos call-up. Born in Perth, the now 28-year-old moved to England when he was 12 and later joined Everton's academy before spending the bulk of his career in League One. Jones, who has represented Wales at youth level, is primarily a centre-back but can operate at right-back as well.

Gethin Jones
Gethin Jones with Bolton Wanderers. Photo credit: Imago Images.

John Iredale is the second player to earn a maiden call from Graham Arnold. The 24-year-old currently plies his trade in the German 2. Bundesliga with SV Wehen Wiesbaden where he has scored two goals in 12 games as a forward this season. 

A former Sydney FC youth product, Iredale has represented Australia on two occasions both at the U20 and U23 level, and has forged a career in Germany since 2019 where he joined VfL Wolfsburg II before switching to SC Paderbon and subsequently his incumbent club in 2021. Incidentally, while at SC Heerenveen's youth team Iredale was named in Arnold's first training camp in September 2018.

John Iredale
John Iredale in action for SV Wehen Wiesbaden. Photo Credit: Imago Images.

Potential Debutants

As highlighted, Gethin Jones and John Iredale are potential debutants having been called up for the first time, while Patrick Yazbek is also a chance having been uncapped during the October window.

First Major Tournament

Next month's event will be the first major tournament in Green and Gold for Joe Gauci, Lawrence Thomas, Gethin Jones, Jordan Bos, Cameron Burgess, Lewis Miller, Connor Metcalfe, Aiden O'Neill, Patrick Yazbek, Martin Boyle, Sam Silvera, Kusini Yengi, Bruno Fornaroli, and John Iredale.

Connor Metcalfe

AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ - Australia's Group B Matches

Australia v India
Date: Saturday, 13 January 2024
Venue: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Kick-off: 2:30pm local, 10:30pm (AEDT)

Syria v Australia
Date: Thursday, 18 January 2024
Venue: Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 2:30pm local, 10:30pm (AEDT)

Australia v Uzbekistan
Date: Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Kick-off: 2:30pm local, 10:30pm (AEDT)

A PDF version of the Match Schedule can be found HERE.