Socceroos Souttar, Boyle and Karacic meet some Aussie furry friends

Some of the newest members of the Socceroos had the chance to meet some of Australia’s favourite wildlife ahead of the team’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ qualification match against Saudi Arabia at Western Sydney Stadium on Thursday night. 

Thursday signals the first time the Socceroos have played on home soil in 763 days, and a strong crowd is expected at Western Sydney Stadium to celebrate the homecoming.

Socceroos Harry Souttar, Martin Boyle and Fran Karacic, born in different corners around the globe, have all proudly joined the Australian national team over the past three years.

Each player has family born in Australia, making them eligible to represent the national team - despite most of their lives having been spent abroad.

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For Karacic - who has already appeared for Australia’s senior men’s national team on five occasions in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ qualifying - this week marks his first visit to Australia.

With restrictions preventing the players from seeing the sites of Sydney ahead of their match against Saudi Arabia, the NEW Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney brought some of the best of what Australia has to offer to their doorstep. 

On Wednesday, zookeepers Chloe and Rebecca introduced Koala, Nelson, and Tamir Wallaby Joey, Bruce, to the players in Parramatta. 

“The NEW Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney is delighted to welcome the Socceroos back to Australia. To help them feel at home and wish them luck for the big match, we thought we would bring some beautiful Aussie icons to say g’day, thanks to our major partner, Commonwealth Bank,” said Sydney Zoo's Chloe Richards.

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Souttar, Boyle and Karacic greet Bruce the joey

While they are only able to see a snapshot of their home nation this time around, the players are relishing the opportunity to be in camp on Australian soil. 

"It's a rainy day, but it's beautiful here. It's my first time and it's great to see Australia, to see Sydney," said Karacic, who plays his club football for Italian outfit Brescia. 

"I'm happy that they could bring some part of Australia to us, with the koalas and kangaroos. Preparing for the game tomorrow is the most important thing but I hope in the next few years I'll have time to visit and spend more time here. 

"It was nice to get out and do a couple of fun things like this, for our past couple of camps we've been stuck in a hotel," Souttar added.  

It's brilliant to be back, my only game here was my debut (in October 2019) and I was only here for 3 or 4 days. All the boys are buzzing to be back and ready to put on a show tomorrow."