The Subway Socceroos will kick off their three year quest to qualify for a sixth-consecutive FIFA World Cup this week, with Bangladesh (Thursday 8:00pm AEDT) and Palestine (next Wednesday 1:00am AEDT) providing the first hurdles en-route to Canada, Mexico and the United States.
One year on from the Subway Socceroos’ best finish at a FIFA World Cup, Graham Arnold and his men return to Melbourne, with Thursday’s qualifier against Bangladesh being the first competitive contest on home soil since facing Japan in Sydney, more than eighteen months ago.
The Australians will then travel west, to the neutral venue of Kuwait, for their final match of the November window, against Palestine. Watching on is the final team in Australia’s qualifying group, Lebanon, who will face the green and gold early next year.
Here is everything you need to know about the Subway Socceroos’ two upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
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Coach Graham Arnold has remained firm on his selection stance, picking a squad of twenty-three who have been regularly playing for their club sides, throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The newest inclusion is Portsmouth forward Kusini Yengi, who has been rewarded for a strong start to life on the south coast of England. Familiar with the national team set-up, the 24-year-old recently represented the Subway Olyroos, earning four appearances at the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022™
Following the start of the A-League Men’s campaign, striker Jamie Maclaren and goalkeeper Joe Gauci regain their spot in the 23-man squad. Maclaren will have the smoothest transition into camp of any player, having to only travel across town from Melbourne City’s training base, fresh off a brace against Macarthur FC on Sunday, his third goal in the last two A-League matches.
Ashley Maynard-Brewer also returns to the fold, with the 24-year-old shot-stopper quickly establishing himself as a mainstay in the Subway Socceroos squad, despite an absence during the October friendlies.
Those missing out on selection through injury include winger Mathew Leckie, Middlesbrough midfielder Riley McGree, and Hearts full-back Nathaniel Atkinson.
|Name||Current Club, Country||‘A’ Caps (Goals)||Junior Club (Member Federation/Country)|
|Keanu BACCUS||St Mirren FC, Scotland||10 (0)||Parklea FC / Football New South Wales|
|Aziz BEHICH||Melbourne City FC, Australia||61 (2)||Meadow Park SC / Football Victoria|
|Brandon BORRELLO||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia||9 (1)||Modbury Jets SC / Football South Australia|
|Jordy BOS||K.V.C Westerlo, Belgium||4 (0)||Hoppers Crossing SC / Football Victoria|
|Martin BOYLE||Hibernian FC, Scotland||22 (6)||Lewis United FC / Montrose FC (Scotland)|
|Cameron BURGESS||Ipswich Town FC, England||2 (0)||ECU Joondalup / Football West|
|Alessandro CIRCATI||Parma Calcio 1913, Italy||1 (0)||Perth Soccer Club / Football West|
|Mitchell DUKE||FC Machida Zelvia, Japan||30 (10)||Liverpool Rangers SC / Football New South Wales|
|Joe GAUCI (Gk)||Adelaide United FC, Australia||1 (0)||Cumberland United FC / Football South Australia|
|Craig GOODWIN||Al Wehda FC, Saudi Arabia||18 (2)||Munno Para City FC / Football South Australia|
|Jackson IRVINE||FC St Pauli, Germany||58 (9)||Ringwood City SC / Football Victoria|
|Massimo LUONGO||Ipswich Town FC, England||44 (6)||APIA Leichhardt FC / Football New South Wales|
|Jamie MACLAREN||Melbourne City FC, Australia||30 (8)||Green Gully SC / Football Victoria|
|Ashley MAYNARD-BREWER (Gk)||Charlton Athletic FC, England||0||ECU Joondalup / Football West|
|Connor METCALFE||FC St. Pauli, Germany||11 (0)||South Cardiff FC / Northern NSW Football|
|Lewis MILLER||Hibernian FC, Scotland||2 (0)||Pittwater RSL FC / Football New South Wales|
|Aiden O’NEILL||Standard de Liège, Belgium||5 (0)||University of Queensland Football Club (Formerly Kenmore FC) / Football Queensland|
|Kye ROWLES||Heart of Midlothian FC, Scotland||12 (0)||Palm Beach SC / Football Queensland|
|Mathew RYAN (Gk) (Cpt)||AZ Alkmaar, Netherland||84 (0)||Blacktown City FC / Football New South Wales|
|Sam SILVERA||Middlesbrough FC, England||2 (0)||Blacktown City FC / Football New South Wales|
|Harry SOUTTAR||Leicester City FC, England||19 (8)||Brechin City Boys Club (Scotland)|
|Ryan STRAIN||St Mirren FC, Scotland||4 (0)||Aston Villa FC (UK)|
|Kusini YENGI||Portsmouth FC, England||0||Fulham United FC / Football South Australia|
What They Said
It's the start of a new campaign, that campaign is crucially important for us to qualify for the World Cup, and it starts next Thursday, here against Bangladesh. We have got to go out with that siege mentality to win every game. I appeal to all the Melbourne fans, to get out and support the boys.
I've really enjoyed the last six months, testing a lot of new players and giving opportunities in those friendly games that we had. The boys set their own standards in those games. And I expect those standards to continue, right from the start. It's a World Cup qualifier. I think that experimenting is over, now it's all about getting the tactics right, getting the players on the pitch, getting their performances right, and winning those games at all costs.
I think we’re putting in good performances, but it’s about translating those good performances into results. I think you can definitely see the kind of culture he’s (Arnold) created around this group, and the belief. Whenever we go into any game, it doesn’t matter who it’s against, you can see the ambition that he has and the culture that he’s created. It’s not about coming up against these top nations and just trying to do well, it’s trying to win every single game and really take it to the opposition.
I would call it a bit of a love affair with AAMI Park, it’s where I made my debut in the A-League and it’s where I scored my first international goal. It’s definitely a stadium I really enjoy playing at and there’s a lot of sentimental value for me. But I think that comes from the crowd as well, that always turns up to AAMI Park whenever we’re playing an international game.
I think we’ve shown playing against the calibre of opposition that we’ve played, that we’re capable of competing at the highest level. Coming off the back of our most successful World Cup campaign has given us lots of confidence, and we’ve only grown since then in performances.
It’s all about mentality. We know we have the quality and the ability to win these games, but you have to go in there and understand that sometimes these conditions can be a leveller. And so there’s always something different that you can take from the games.
There’s nothing quite compared to playing games at a World Cup. It only comes around every four years and the whole world basically stops for this one tournament. It provides a real special platform for us as players representing our countries there and there’s nothing better.
That’s the thing, when you have prizes like qualifying for World Cups, these are the challenges you need to face and you’ve got to demonstrate all of the characteristics to overcome them. It’s a long journey and a gruelling one, but the fruits at the end of it are so sweet that you have no worries in confronting them and doing all you can to reach the end goal of playing in the World Cup.
Australia and 183rd rank Bangladesh, is a sporting rivalry synonymous with cricket, yet the nations have previously met in FIFA World Cup qualification, during late 2015.
The then Asian Cup champions hosted Bangladesh in Perth, where a brace from Tom Rogic and goals from Nathan Burns, Aaron Mooy, and Mathew Leckie completed a 5-0 rout. The only player from the starting lineup to remain in the current squad is Massimo Luongo, highlighting the immense squad transition seen over the past eight years.
The return leg in Dhaka was just as fruitful for the Subway Socceroos, with all-time top-scorer Tim Cahill bagging a hat-trick during a 4-0 victory.
Australia’s only match against 96th rank Palestine was also a recent affair, having come during the group stage of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Current international Jamie Maclaren converted his first international goal, with Awer Mabil and Apostolos Giannou also scoring to silence the capacity crowd, the 3-0 victory crucial to Australia’s progression to the knockouts.
How To Watch
- READ MORE: How to watch Australia vs Bangladesh
FIFA WORLD CUP 2026™ SECOND ROUND ASIAN QUALIFIERS:
Subway Socceroos v Bangladesh
Thursday, 16 November 2023
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT
Tickets: via Ticketek
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+
Palestine v Subway Socceroos
Tuesday, 21 November 2023 / Wednesday, 22 November
Jaber Al-Ahmed International Stadium, Kuwait
5pm Local, 1am AEDT
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+