Socceroos boss Graeme Arnold’s need for speed in attack has provided Perth Glory flyer Chris Ikonomidis with an early Christmas present. The 23 year old forward’s scintillating form in the A-League this season has won him a spot in Arnold’s 23 man Socceroo squad set to defend its Asian Cup title at the AFC Asian Cup tournament in the United Arab Emirates beginning early in January.
Ikonomidis is just one of three current A-League players selected in the squad along with Sydney based defenders Josh Risdon (WSW) and Rhyan Grant ( Sydney FC). In addition to Ikonomidis, the other player of Greek Australian descent selected in Arnold’s final 23 man squad, is another of his former charges at Sydney FC, but who is now based in Norway, young defender Alex Gersbach.
But for Melbourne Victory’s Socceroo hopefuls, James Troisi and Terry Antonis, and the Jets’ Dimi Petratos, the news wasn’t so good with all three unfortunately missing out. However there’s an outside chance either one of them could come into calculation as an injury replacement player if Aaron Mooy is ruled out following an independent assessment of his knee injury later in the week.
Cyprus based striker Apostolos Giannou has also missed out, but an even bigger talking point is the omission of recent, frequent forward selection, Tomi Juric. Instead Arnold has opted for a fleet footed attack by including Hibernian based forward Jamie MacLaren, Scottish born convert Martin Boyle and Perth Glory’s Ikonomidis.
According to Socceroos boss Arnold, Ikonomidis’s A-League form this season, and the speed he brings in the attacking third of the field, make him an excellent fit for the style of play the coach expects from the Socceroos.
“Chris [Ikonomidis] has made a great start to his time at Perth Glory under Tony Popovic and it has been his form in the Hyundai A-League that has sealed his place in the squad,” he said. “Chris will add pace and energy to our attack, which is the consistent feature of the players that we have picked in the Socceroos’ attack for this tournament.
“We will play energetic, high-intensity football in the UAE, and the rapid attackers we have selected including Chris, Mathew [Leckie], Robbie [Kruse], Awer [Mabil], Martin [Boyle], Andrew [Nabbout], and Jamie [Maclaren] will enable us to implement our style,” he concluded.
Australia will play Jordan, Palestine, and Syria in Group B at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.
Eight venues in four cities (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Al Ain) will host matches at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™. The tournament will kick-off in Abu Dhabi on 5 January 2019 and conclude in the same city on 1 February 2019.
SOCCEROOS SQUAD FOR ASIAN CUP: Goalkeepers: Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic Defence: Mark Milligan (capt), Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Rhyan Grant, Matt Jurman, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury Midfield: Mustafa Amini, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic Attack: Martin Boyle, Chris Ikonomidis, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout