‘Fit and ready to go’: Arnold reacts to Socceroos squad for October's Qualifiers

Following Saturday's announcement, Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold talked through his 25-man squad for upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers against Oman and Japan. 

Australia’s squad for its upcoming matches against Oman and Japan will assemble in Doha, Qatar over the coming days ahead of next week’s fixture against Oman at the Khalifa International Stadium on October 7. 

Following the match against Oman, the squad will travel to Japan to take on the Samurai Blue in Saitama, at the Saitama Stadium 2002 on October 12. 

The Socceroos return to the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha having defeated China PR 3-0 on matchday one at the same venue. 

Thin Banner October

While the Green and Gold were unable to return to Australia for the fixture, Arnold told Socceroos Insider that he believes the familiar surroundings will be a positive influence. 

“It's obviously great surroundings over here and one we're very familiar with because we have played quite a lot of games in the Middle East,” Arnold explained on Socceroos Insider. 

“The boys are extremely comfortable here and we're grateful to the Qatari Football Association for hosting this game and we're looking forward to it.”

Arnold’s squad is largely unchanged from the last camp which kicked off in perfect fashion, with two wins from two against China and Vietnam to secure top position in Group B. 

Arnold is looking forward to matches against Oman and Japan.

While the 25-man squad features a lot of familiar faces from the last camp, there are two notable new inclusions.

Brescia right back Fran Karacic and Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis both re-join the squad after missing the last camp. 

“It’s pretty much the same squad as last time,” Arnold said. 

“We're very grateful to Melbourne Victory for releasing Chris Ikonomidis for this camp.

“We needed a bit of extra firepower up front, and Chris has been working extremely hard at Melbourne Victory in the preseason so we're looking forward to bringing him into camp.

“Fran Karacic did a great job for us in Kuwait, and we're a little bit short on the fullback side of things. 

“Fran was injured, with a calf injury for the first two qualifiers, but now he's fighting fit and doing well so we bring him back into the squad.”

Karacic Ikonomidis
Fran Karacic and Chris Ikonomidis return to the squad

Karacic, who was outstanding during the June qualifiers, returns to the camp as he looks to regain full match fitness following his injury.

The Serie B defender has returned to action via the bench for his club side Brescia, and Arnold cannot wait to have him back in camp. 

“We all know that if you're in the Serie B and you're in a very good club that you would be working extremely hard. 

“They've got great depth and it makes it even harder to play but at the end of the day, he's doing well and we welcome him back into the squad because he did very well for us in Kuwait.” 

Fresh from making his first La Liga start for new club Real Sociedad, Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan will be hoping to put his pre-season knee injury well and truly behind him when he rejoins the Socceroos squad. 

Mat Ryan Sociedad
Mat Ryan made his Real Sociedad debut on 23 September, helping Sociedad to a 3–2 away win over Granada.

Returning to the squad alongside Ryan is SønderjyskE goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and NEC Nijmegen goalkeeper Danny Vukovic. 

“We have three great goalkeepers. Unfortunately, the Australian-based goalkeepers at the moment are having trouble getting out of Australia because of the quarantine when they go home," Arnold said. 

“But with Maty, he's obviously doing really well at Sociedad. He’s not playing at this moment but he played in La Liga last week and he's in great form so we're very strong in that department.”

Another Aussie who has been included in the squad and is performing extremely well in Europe is Toulouse FC midfielder Denis Genreau. 

The former Macarthur FC man has endured a whirlwind few months after becoming a Socceroo in June and an Olympian in July, as well as a fantastic start to life in the South of France. 

Denis Genreau
Genreau has played seven games for Toulouse so far.

Arnold is hoping that Genreau can bring some of the form into Socceroos camp that has seen him feature heavily for Toulouse as they sit on top of the Ligue 2 table. 

“He’s gone over to Toulouse after the Olympics and he’s doing extremely well for the club there,” Arnold explained. 

“He’s a young boy with a lot of talent and he brings a lot of energy to the camp.

He’s going to give me a lot of headaches for who to play in these two games because we're very, very strong in that department.” 

Alongside Genreau in the midfielder department is Kenny Dougall, James Jeggo, Riley McGree, Ajdin Hrustic and Jackson Irvine. 

Star duo Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy will also return for another camp having impressed in the last qualifiers. 

Rogic has enjoyed a return to form at Celtic under new boss Ange Postecoglou.

Rogic has enjoyed a return to form at Celtic and with a 50th Socceroos appearance likely to be reached during these qualifiers, Arnold is hoping to get the most out of the skilful midfielder. 

“Tommy's been in very, very good form at Celtic. He's getting a lot of minutes under Ange. 

“You can see that he's very happy with himself and that's very important. When Tommy's like that, he does a great job for the team.”

Despite the Chinese Super League season being on a break, Aaron Mooy has been able to maintain his fitness with the Socceroos strength and conditioning guru Andrew Clark in Scottland. 

“Aaron's been back in Scotland with the family. He's been given an individual program. Andrew Clark went across to Scotland during the break and spent a week with Aaron.

“He worked him extremely hard on his own, and Clarky came back and said he's in great shape, and he could easily play a full game so he's in a very good headspace at the moment.

“He's with his family and he's very happy. He said it's very fit and ready to go.”

Mooy Duke
Mooy is ready to shine for the Socceroos despite being on a season break in China.

As preparations continue for these two huge fixtures, Arnold is approaching each match one game at a time. 

Up for grabs is the chance to become the first nation ever to register 11-straight wins in a single qualifying campaign - plus, six huge points that would go a long way towards securing passage to our nation's fifth-straight FIFA World Cup Finals. 

“It's one game at a time and our focus at the moment with the boys coming to camp is all about the game here in Qatar,” Arnold explained. 

“We’re playing in an air-conditioned stadium on a great surface so it’s about getting those three points and it's one game at a time. 

“We don't look too far ahead. Yes, it's been a great start but I expect that to continue.”

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)

Matchday 3: Australia v Oman
Date: Thursday, 7 October 2021
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar
Kick-off: 9.30pm local (5.30am AEDT – Friday, 8 October 2021)
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on 10 and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 5am AEDT

Matchday 4: Japan v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan
Kick-off: 7.14pm local (9.14pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on 10 Bold and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 8.30pm AEDT