Strong Aussie squad announced for crucial Olympic qualifier

Qantas Under 23s coach Graham Arnold has announced a strong squad which includes eight overseas based players for Australia’s crucial Olympic Games qualifier against Iraq in Gosford on Saturday 17 November.

Qantas Under 23s coach Graham Arnold has announced a strong squad which includes eight overseas based players for Australia-s crucial Olympic Games qualifier against Iraq in Gosford on Saturday 17 November.

Australia-s best young talent feature in the squad including defender Adrian Leijer (Fulham, England), midfielder Neil Kilkenny (Birmingham City, England), plus forwards James Troisi (pictured) (Newcastle United, England) and David Williams (Brondby, Denmark) amongst the foreign-based contingent. A number of key Hyundai A-League players have also been selected including Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, team captain and Qantas Socceroo defender Mark Milligan (Sydney FC), plus Adelaide United attacking duo Nathan Burns and Kristian Sarkies.

Queensland Roar-s 19-year-old attacker Michael Zullo is the only new face in the 24-strong squad selected for the match, with a squad of 20 to travel to DPR (North) Korea the following day for the final group match on Wednesday 21 November.

Central Coast Mariners defender Nigel Boogaard will be looking to debut for the Qantas Under 23s on his home ground having featured in a number of previous squads. Mariners goalkeeper Matthew Trott has also been selected as a train-on member of the squad.

Australia currently sit equal first with Asian champions Iraq at the top of the group table with two matches remaining, with Iraq holding a narrow lead on goal difference and only the top team in the group to qualify.

A squad of domestic-based players featured in a three-day camp this week using an artificial surface at Sutherland Sharks FC in Sydney with the match at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang also to be played on an artificial surface.

“I-m very happy with the quality of the squad and most of the players are currently playing which is a major positive,” said Arnold.

“There is also good depth right across the squad so competition for places in the starting line-up is quite high.”

German-based defender Matthew Spiranovic was unavailable for selection with a knee injury as is Adelaide United striker Bruce Djite who is carrying a foot injury, while Newcastle Jets midfielder Stuart Musialik has been selected though still recovering from an appendix operation.

The 24-man Australian squad for the match against Iraq in Gosford on November 17 is:

Nigel Boogaard (Central Coast Mariners), Leigh Broxham (Melbourne Victory), Mark Bridge (Newcastle Jets), Nathan Burns (Adelaide United), Billy Celeski (Perth Glory), Adam D-Apuzzo (Newcastle Jets), Aaron Downes (Chesterfield, England), Dez Giraldi (Adelaide United), Neil Kilkenny (Oldham Athletic, on loan from Birmingham City, England), Adrian Leijer (Fulham, England), Trent McClenahan (Hereford United, England), Mark Milligan (Sydney FC), Stuart Musialik (Newcastle Jets), Kristian Sarkies (Adelaide United), Jordan Simpson (Perth Glory), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory), James Troisi (Newcastle United, England), Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg, Germany), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Nick Ward (QPR, England), David Williams (Brondby, Denmark), Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney FC), Michael Zullo (Queensland Roar)

Train-on: Matthew Trott (Central Coast Mariners)

Stand-by: David Micevski (Perth Glory), Tory Hearfield (Newcastle Jets), Robert Cornthwaite (Adelaide United), Robbie Kruse (Queensland Roar)

Australia progressed past Chinese Taipei in the preliminary stage of qualifying in February and then finished ahead of Iran and Jordan to qualify alongside Saudi Arabia for the third and final stage.

Tickets:- Tickets for the match in Gosford are selling well and are on sale now from Ticketek outlets; from the Ticketek website -, or via phone on 132 849.

TV:- Delayed coverage of the match on SBS TV, 10:15pm-12:15am, Saturday 17 October

Fixtures:- Iraq v Australia 0-0 Wednesday 22 Aug, 7pm local Al Rayyan Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Australia v DPR Korea 1-0 Saturday 8 Sept, kick-off 7pm AEST EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle

Australia v Lebanon 3-0 Wednesday 12 Sept, kick-off 7pm AEST Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

Lebanon v Australia 0-0 Wednesday 17 Oct, 6pm local time Beirut Municipal Stadium, Beirut

Australia v Iraq Saturday 17 Nov, kick-off 7pm AEDST Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford

DPR Korea v Australia Wednesday 21 Nov, 3pm local time Kim Il Sung Stadium, Pyongyang