Squad Status: Unheralded attacker’s rich scoring season

Caltex Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk has confirmed his extended 26-man squad which will assemble in Turkey for a crucial pre-FIFA World Cup training camp.

We’ve already looked at the options in goal, at the back and in midfield so today it’s the turn of the attackers.

And there’s some interesting options at van Marwijk’s disposal, with eight players offering differing qualities and an unheralded attacker coming off a season where he scored a goal every 199 minutes.

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Here’s the Squad Status of our eight attackers picked in van Marwijk’s Caltex Socceroos extended squad, looking at the form they’ll be carrying into camp ahead of Russia ...

Daniel Arzani

Games played: 18 (1195 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 9 (709 minutes)

The story of his season:

The chance to bring Melbourne City starlet Arzani into the Caltex Socceroos fold proved too enticing for Bert van Marwijk after his breakout 2017/18 Hyundai A-League campaign.

The NAB Young Footballer of the Year was instrumental in helping City to their highest ever Regular Season finish and has consistently courted high-praise throughout the season, netting two goals and claiming three assists across 18 appearances.

Arzani’s close control and technical ability provided Warren Joyce’s men with several decisive moments, and former Caltex Socceroo Tony Vidmar highlighted the 19-year-old’s greatest x-factor attribute.

"We don't have anything like him as a player," Vidmar said at the Optus World Cup Launch in Sydney on Tuesday

"One stat he had this year was the amount of take-ons he had when he went past players was double the next nearest player.

"He just has this belief and confidence that every time he gets the ball he can get past a player...and he's proved that he can do it."

Daniel Arzani


Tim Cahill

Games played: 16 (157 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 10 (63 minutes)

The story of his season:

It was a quiet season on the domestic front for Caltex Socceroos legend and all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill.

READ: The unseen numbers behind Tim Cahill's Caltex Socceroos inclusion

After drawing a close on his stint at Melbourne City at the beginning of the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League season, Cahill returned to former club Millwall in late January right as his club went on a run of form that saw them rocket up the Championship ladder.

That made regular game time difficult to come by for the 38-year-old who was nevertheless praised for his impact in the dressing room as The Lions pushed for promotion.

Tim Cahill played just over an hour since his switch to Millwall.
Tim Cahill in action for Millwall

Tomi Juric

Games played: 31 (2262 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 8 (544 minutes)

The story of his season:

It’s been another steady season in front of goal for Tomi Juric in his second campaign with Swiss outfit FC Luzern.

The former Western Sydney Wanderers striker started his season with a bang, netting a brace in a Europa League qualifier against Croatian side Osijek in August before adding a further four league goals by September.

But Juric’s form has taken a dip, as he missed games in the second half of the season through injury and two red card suspensions. It took him until November to score again, in a game where he also missed a penalty kick but saw teammate Shkelqim Demhasaj score from the rebound.

Since the turn of 2018, Juric has netted just one open play goal (and one penalty) in 718 minutes but has contributed across the season with six assists in 24 starts.

Tomi Juric


Robbie Kruse

Games played: 31 (2648 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 12 (1023 minutes)

The story of his season:

Kruse continued his German adventure after signing for VfL Bochum last July, eventually guiding the side to a sixth-placed finish in the 2. Bundesliga.

Deployed on both the left and right side of an attacking three, and even as the central striker by manager Robin Dutt, Kruse finished the season with seven goals and six assists.

In what has been a respectable campaign for Bochum, who were relegated into the second division in 2010, the highlight for Kruse was a well-taken brace in a 2-1 victory over Erzgebirge in late April.

"[Bochum fans] love ‘Krusey’ and there’s a lot of talk about him when he has to fly to Australia for international duty or when he’s injured or in doubt for the weekend because [fans] want him out there," explained former Hyundai A-League star Thomas Broich to beIN Sports.

Coming off a strong debut season, there is even fear among Bochum fans that a good FIFA World Cup campaign for the Caltex Socceroos could see them lose their new star attacker.

Robbie Kruse


Mathew Leckie

Games played: 29 (2026 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 9 (685 minutes)

The story of his season:

While this season was the fewest minutes Mathew Leckie has played at club level for the last five years, the rapid attacker still showed frequent evidence of his weapons that worry opposition defenders.

After joining German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin from FC Ingolstadt, Leckie grabbed five goals and an assist in his debut season in his 26 league games.

Fielded predominantly on the right wing, Leckie got off to the perfect start at his new club, scoring a brace on debut to cap off a perfect week which also saw him become a new dad.

Leckie came to the end of September with four goals in his first five league appearances but then saw his fine form disrupted by a thigh injury. After the return from Germany's winter break, the 27-year-old then went through a spell of just 70 minutes across five games in January and February before he re-established himself in the starting XI.

And in a season where Leckie also grabbed his maiden European goal - against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League - he ended his club season on a high with a goal in late April.

Mathew Leckie feels he's found good rhythm at Hertha Berlin this season.


Andrew Nabbout

Games played: 30 (2301 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 11 (647 minutes)

The story of his season:

It’s been all about timing for 25-year-old Nabbout, who picked a great time to produce a breakout season.

The speedy attacker tore up the Hyundai A-League in the first few months of the season, amassing 10 goals and seven assists for the high-flying Newcastle Jets.

And he has a penchant for coming up with the spectacular, as evidenced by scoring cracking goals against both Western Sydney Wanderers – which was voted the goal of the season and even went global on ESPN – and also Sydney FC in his final appearance for the Jets.

It helped seal a lucrative move to J-League powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds, where he has featured eight times so far in league and cup. While out wide is where he is most comfortable, van Marwijk could use Nabbout as a striking option as we saw in the friendly against Norway in March.

"(Van Marwijk) has pretty much told me he wants me to play out wide but also play as a number nine as well," Nabbout told Reuters. "He said 'I need you to be ready for both of those roles'. And I’m more than ready."

Dimitri Petratos

Games played: 27 (2412 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 9 (805 minutes)

The story of his season:

Even with his undoubted potential, not many would have imagined the impact Petratos could have had for the Newcastle Jets this season after returning to the Hyundai A-League after a short stint in South Korea.

Along with Nabbout, the 25-year-old was the driving force behind the Hunter club’s incredible season, culminating in a Grand Final berth.

Petratos – who was named the Jets’ Player of the Year - contributed 10 goals and nine assists, meaning he was involved in a Jets goal every 115 minutes. And his versatility could be his strongest asset in his hopes of getting to Russia.

Having debuted for the Caltex Socceroos on the left side of a 4-2-3-1 system, Petratos has shown an ability to play on either flank or even in the ‘number 10’ role behind a lone striker.

Dimitri Petratos

Nikita Rukavytsya

Games played: 40 (2985 minutes)

Games played in the last three months: 12 (1014 minutes)

The story of his season:

After a couple of years in the international wilderness, Rukavytsya was a surprise call-up as the Caltex Socceroos came through the play-offs to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

Now 30, he still possesses the same searing speed which can frighten defenders and helped him earn a spot in the squad for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

He comes into camp on the back of a solid season with Maccabi Haifa in Israel, playing regularly for a side which finished in the lower half of the table.

His 15 goals in all competitions came at a rate of one every 199 minutes, a fine return for someone who plays predominantly in wide areas.

Will it be enough to get him into the final 23 and on the plane to Russia?