The Caltex Socceroos are entering exciting times following the announcement of Graham Arnold’s initial 25-man squad to face Kuwait.
Arnold and Australia will assemble in the Middle East on Monday in preparation for a crucial pre-AFC Asian Cup hit-out against Kuwait on Tuesday, October 16 (AEST).
The next week looms as an important one for players pressing their claim to be a part of Arnold's plans leading into that crucial title defence.
But who will be looking to make their mark, and what could we expect when Arnold’s era kicks off on the pitch in little over a week’s time?
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The last time the Caltex Socceroos played Kuwait, the clash proved to be a springboard to Australia’s 2015 AFC Asian Cup win.
When the two sides meet again on Tuesday, October 16 the fixture could offer a chance for the new blood within Arnold’s squad to catapult themselves into AFC Asian Cup squad contention.
Arnold’s era so far has headed by a vibrant, new-look feel fronted by a cluster of new faces and fresh opportunities.
The 55-year-old has clearly got his eye on Australians plying their trade in all corners of the globe, as evidenced by his first squad announcement back in August – which saw surprise inclusions for the likes of Awer Mabil, Kenny Dougall, Ben Garuccio and Mitch Duke.
This time, Arnold has handed opportunities to Melbourne Victory youngster Thomas Deng and Scottish-born winger Martin Boyle, who join PEC Zwolle playmaker Denis Genreau and the Denmark-based Mabil as the uncapped players in his squad to face Kuwait.
All eyes on attacking depth
While Arnold’s bay of emerging talent has dominated discussion during his reign so far, another eye-catching element of the latest Caltex Socceroos squad is the array of attacking options at his disposal.
How the Caltex Socceroos boss plans to meld these options together on the training pitch and against Kuwait is a question on the forefront of the Australian footballing public.
But one thing’s for sure – Australia will take on Kuwait with an impressive front-line roster, highlighted by the return of attacking duo Mathew Leckie and Tom Rogic.
While the presence of Leckie and Rogic bolsters Australia’s attacking potential significantly, there will still be no shortage of competition for places.
Apostolos Giannou has been in fine form during AEK Larnaca’s UEFA Europa League campaign, while Tomi Juric will be eager to impress after making his return from injury for FC Luzern late last month.
Moreover, the attacking rotations and partnerships on display will show how the squad has been putting Arnold’s ideals into practice, and the patterns that emerge during training and on the pitch against Kuwait could leave a big impression for the future.
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