Spare a thought for Cypriot based Greek-Australian striker Apostolos Giannou. Sometime tomorrow, less than 200 miles across the blue waters of the southern Mediterranean sea, north east from where he plies his trade in Cyprus, the 26 man Socceroo squad will gather in the Turkish coastal town of Antalya to begin their final intensive training camp in the lead up to next month’s Russian World Cup tournament…a close reminder of what might have been.
Giannou and Alex Gersbach are amongst six of the players named in the 32 man preliminary squad who won’t be making the trip to Antalya as part of Bert Van Marwijk’s 26 man squad announced last Tuesday morning. The other omissions are striker Jamie MacLaren, keeper Mitch Langerak and defenders Aleksandar Susnjar and Bailey Wright. Wright can consider, himself perhaps the most unfortunate, seeing he appeared on a regular basis for the Socceroos during the qualifying series of matches.
Better news though for recent A-League grand finalists James Troisi and Dimi Petratos who made the cut and will be flying into training camp in Turkey. Joining them will be three other A-League players Josh Brilliante, Josh Risdon, and Melbourne City wunderkind Daniel Arzani. Arzani will reunite with former City team mate Tim Cahill who also made the cut after doubts were raised about his fitness due to lack of game time since his move to Milwall. Also named in the squad is Andrew Nabbout recently of the Newcastle Jets but now playing in Japan.
Coach Van Marwijk said in an FFA statement following the Tuesday’s squad announcement, “It is always a challenging task to reduce a squad, however this is the nature of professional sport at the highest level.”
“Overall, I believe we have named a strong and ambitious squad for our training camp in Turkey and friendly against Czech Republic in Austria.”
“I am sure that in training in Antalya, and in our match against the Czech Republic, we will see players pushing to go to a higher level as they compete for a place in the final squad,” he said.
The 26 man squad will be in Turkey for the three week long training camp before arriving in Russia on the 10th June. The Socceroos will play a warm up against the Czech Republic on June 1st following which date the coach will name his final squad of 23 before playing a final warm match against Hungary.
The Socceroos opening world cup match is on the June 16th against France.
The 26-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk)
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Fran Karacic (Lokomotiva), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshoppers)
Midfielders: Josh Brillante (Sydney FC), Jackson Irvine (Hull), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (Bochum), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers), Mark Milligan (Al Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tim Cahill (Millwall), Tomi Juric (FC Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa)