Overseas based footballers Apostolos Giannou and Alex Gersbach have been given the opportunity to kick start their international careers after they stalled when they were overlooked in former Socceroos coach Bert Van Marwijk’s World Cup squad.
New Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has named both players in his 24 man squad ahead of Arnold’s first match in charge, away to Kuwait scheduled for this coming Tuesday morning (AEST).
AEK Larnaca striker Giannou is hoping he’ll get more opportunities to add to his five Socceroo caps, especially as Arnold seeks to find a solution to his dearth of goal scorers, especially now that Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak, two of Australia’s more prolific scorers in recent times, have announced their retirements.
More than half the players in Arnold’s 24-man squad have eight caps or less. This group includes Rosenborg BK defender Gersbach who reunites with his former A-League coach at Sydney FC Graham Arnold. Arnold recalled the 21-year-old for the recent Socceroos training camp in Turkey and followed that up by naming him in the squad for the Kuwait friendly match.
“To be back in now once was a good opportunity to show what I can do, but coming back again now is positive and I just have to keep moving forward and keep doing well,” Gersbach told www.socceroos.com.au.
“In Turkey, it was really good in training, the intensity was high,” he added.
“Obviously you still have that core group of players who played at the World Cup that have been with the Socceroos for the last four years and then some fresh faces on the side and some young players really eager to do well.
“Obviously it’s Arnie’s first game as head coach. It’s really important for us as a team to start the new phase well.”
“Obviously Arnie played a massive role in my development as a 17, 18-year-old at Sydney FC so to be able to work with him again is fantastic and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Whilst the senior Socceroos are preparing to take on Kuwait this week, the young Socceroos squad are currently in Singapore preparing for the 2018 AFC U 19 Championship tournament in Indonesia, which kicks off for them this coming Friday, October 19th against the Korea Republic.
Coach Ante Milicic’s 23 man squad includes six talented young footballers of Greek heritage including Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Kosta Grozos and defender Tass Moudoukoutas, Melbourne City defender Dylan Pierias, Adelaide United forward Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, as well as overseas based defender Con Ouzounidis (Everton FC) and forward Christian Theoharous (Borussia Moenchengladbach).
Most of the squad in general, including the six mentioned, are squad players in their senior teams. For them, the upcoming tournament is a further opportunity to gain international experience. The AFC tournament in Indonesia also doubles as the qualification process for the 2019 FIFA U 20 World Cup to be held in Poland.
In order to qualify for the U 20 World Cup, the Young Socceroos must reach the semi-final stage of the AFC tournament in Indonesia. Their group games kick off on Friday 19th October against the Korean Republic, followed by further group matches against Vietnam and Jordan. Their first task is to qualify for the quarter final stage by finishing first or second in the group.