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Socceroos World Cup squad snubs: Tom Rogic, Trent Sainsbury among star Australia players left out

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The Socceroos squad for World Cup 2022 in Qatar has been named with coach Graham Arnold making plenty of controversial selections.

Australia’s 26-man list for the tournament features the likes of Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy, Hibs winger Martin Boyle and F.C. Copenhagen goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

In addition to the seasoned squad members, several talents with little international experience were also selected, including Central Coast wonderkid Garang Kuol, his teammate Jason Cummings and Hearts midfielder Cameron Devlin.

However, there were several players not picked in the World Cup squad which critics feel could have been selected by Arnold – with the tournament beginning for Australia on November 23 (AEDT).

Here is a rundown of the most prominent players who were not included on the final 26-man squad for Australia at the FIFA World Cup.

MORE: A full breakdown of Australia’s 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Tom Rogic (West Bromwich Albion)

Having been the Socceroos’ prime playmaker when available for the majority of his international career, it’s a surprise to see Rogic not a part of the Australia squad at all for the World Cup.

Rogic finished last season for Celtic in prime form, providing a strong contribution as he won the Scottish title under former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou.

But after deciding to leave the Scottish champions, Rogic withdrew from the Socceroos squad for the World Cup playoffs for personal reasons, before not finding a new club more than a month into the European season – at Championship side West Brom.

Since joining the Baggies, Rogic has made five league appearances for one assist across 150 minutes.

It was still thought that Rogic would figure as part of the squad if his body was right but it appears he has been left for younger talent such as Riley McGree and Cam Devlin.

“I spoke to Tommy, had Tony Vidmar go all the way from Australia to watch Tommy at West Brom..but at the end of the day I can only pick two players for every position,” Arnold said when the squad was unveiled.

“I would have loved to have picked 50 players but we’ve gone for Ajdin Hrustic and Riley McGree in that area.” 

MORE: Australia World Cup squad: Socceroos coach Graham Arnold explains players picked and excluded for Qatar 2022

Trent Sainsbury (Al-Wakrah)

Despite playing his club football in the Qatari first division, Sainsbury has been left out of the squad despite being a mainstay for the past eight years.

The 30-year-old captained Australia on occasion since the retirement of Mile Jedinak in 2018 but has struggled to carve out a consistent career at club level across teams in Israel, Belgium and Qatar in recent years.

Ultimately, younger central defensive options Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles have been selected ahead of the 58-cap veteran.

“Obviously it was a very, very difficult decision. I spoke to Trent obviously about where he’s at at this moment of time. He hasn’t played for a number of weeks,” Arnold said of Sainsbury. 

“Obviously, he’s playing here in Qatar but overall I’ve gone for players like Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles that have done exceptionally well and continue to do well.

“Trent was understanding of the situation but it was a decision which is hard to make.”

Trent Sainsbury Australia v Jordan World Cup qualifying 29032016

Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus)

After coming out of international retirement earlier this year, Langerak was expected to be selected as the Socceroos No.2 goalkeeper, and even be a chance to be No.1 with Mat Ryan struggling with injury and game time at F.C. Copenhagan in Denmark.

However, Arnold has opted to pick two A-League Men goalkeepers instead in playoff hero Andrew Redmayne and experienced Mariners stopper Danny Vukovic.

Intriguingly, Langerak has kept more clean sheets (48) for Nagoya Grampus in the J-League since the start of 2021 than Ryan, Vukovic and Redmayne put together at club level (35).

Former Socceroos Robbie Cornthwaite and Tommy Oar were highly critical of the decision to snub Langerak.

“If Mitch has said he wants to go then this is staggering,” Cornthwaite tweeted.

“Matt Ryan no.1 and then two no.3 keepers?

“Maybe Arnie is trying to give Ryan confidence by saying you’re under no pressure for your place? So don’t stress? Just doesn’t add up for me.”

Oar agreed: “It’s an absolute wind up. Takes jobs for the boys to a whole new level.

“He’s been one of our best performing players consistently for the last 5 years and is one of the best blokes you’ll meet, respected by everyone.”

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold spoke about his non-selection of Langerak.

“I’m not an expert in goalkeeping and we’ve got a great goalkeeping coach in John Crawley who has a process and studies these goalkeepers and understands these goalkeepers enormously,” Arnold said. 

“I’ve got to trust that process and I trusted John Crawley when we played Peru with that substitution [Redmayne] and I’ve got to trust again those type of decisions.

“Mitch is a fantastic guy, fantastic goalkeeper.” 

MORE: All about Australia’s Group D at the 2022 World Cup

Cristian Volpato (AS Roma)

MORE: Cristian Volpato declined to play for Socceroos at World Cup, says Australia coach Graham Arnold

Volpato is an unusual case regarding his national team selection with his form for Serie A giants Roma arguably better and at a higher level than any other Socceroos option in the world.

The 18-year-old scored the winner for Jose Mourinho’s side against Hellas Verona last month is starting to get regular minutes in all competitions.

However, he is currently playing for Italy’s under-20 side and appears destined to play for the Italian national team, instead of his birth country.

It is thought Volpato is keen to play for Italy after harbouring resentment toward the Australian football system after he wasn’t given a chance at youth level for A-League Men clubs Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers and also in Australia’s international junior teams.

While Volpato hasn’t publicly spoken of a decision between Italy and Australia, his non-selection for the World Cup suggests he is likely to choose Italy or is at the very least leaning in that direction.

“I spoke to Cristian yesterday three times. Before that I spoke to him on numerous occasions. I pretty much told him yesterday that he was in the 26-man squad,” Arnold said. 

“He wanted to go away and think about it. Wanted to speak to the people around him that help guide his career and he came back last night and declined the offer to come and play for Australia at the World Cup.” 

Adam Taggart (Cerezo Osaka)

Long expected to snare the Socceroos No.9 role, Taggart hasn’t managed to lock down the position because of injury and form issues.

By the time the World Cup comes around, Taggart wouldn’t have scored for Australia for more than three years and has also been dropped at club level for J-League side Cerezo Osaka.

It’s a far cry for the 29-year-old, who claimed K-League top goalscorer for Suwon Bluewings in 2018-19 and earned a move to the Japan as a result.

Taggart’s omission from the squad has allowed the selection of wonderkid Garang Kuol and striker Jason Cummings as front line options.

But question marks will be asked if Australia struggles to score at the World Cup, with Taggart arguably the most well-rounded option to play as centre-forward.

Marco Tilio (Melbourne City)

Tilio has featured off the bench in most recent Australian clashes leading pundits to believe Melbourne City winger would be selected as a bench option.

Funnily enough, when Tilio played for the national team previously, he wasn’t first-choice at Melbourne City.

In recent weeks, Tilio has earned his first-choice spot at the A-League Men club and has been in sparkling form, scoring in his last two appearances.

His position in the squad was ultimately denied because of the selection of the likes of Garang Kuol and Craig Goodwin.

Daniel Arzani (Macarthur FC)

Unfortunately for Arzani, his run at the Socceroos squad came too late despite some great performances in the A-League Men for Macarthur FC.

In reality, the likes of Tilio were ahead of him in the pecking order so he was likely a fair way off being selected for the World Cup.

Daniel Arzani

Kenny Dougall (Blackpool)

Dougall’s 1467 minutes for Championship side Blackpool meant he had played the most minutes of any midfield contender for the Socceroos squad.

Despite being Australia’s most natural defensive midfielder, Jackson Irvine, Keanu Baccus and Cam Devlin will be the midfielders likely to feature behind Aaron Mooy and Ajdin Hrustic.

Australia squad for FIFA World Cup 2022

Graham Arnold named his final 26-man squad on Tuesday, November 8, six days ahead of the FIFA-imposed deadline of November 14.

Here’s the final list.

Position Player Club Age Caps
Goalkeeper Maty Ryan FC Copenhagen (DEN) 30 75
Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne Sydney FC (AUS) 33 3
Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 37 4
Defender Milos Degenek Columbus Crew (USA) 28 38
Defender Aziz Behich Dundee United (SCO) 31 53
Defender Joel King OB (DAN) 21 3
Defender Nathaniel Atkinson Hearts (SCO) 23 5
Defender Fran Karacic Brescia (ITA) 26 10
Defender Harry Souttar Stoke City (ENG) 23 10
Defender Kye Rowles Hearts (SCO) 24 3
Defender Bailey Wright Sunderland (ENG) 30 27
Defender Thomas Deng Albirex Niigata (JAP) 25 2
Midfielder Aaron Mooy Celtic (SCO) 32 53
Midfielder Jackson Irvine St Pauli (GER) 29 49
Midfielder Ajdin Hrustic Hellas Verona (ITA) 26 20
Midfielder Keanu Baccus St Mirren (SCO 29 53
Midfielder Cameron Devlin Hearts (SCO) 24 1
Midfielder Riley McGree Middlesbrough (ENG) 23 10
Forward Awer Mabil Cadiz (SPA) 27 29
Forward Mathew Leckie Melbourne City (AUS) 31 72
Forward Martin Boyle Hibernian (SCO) 29 19
Forward Jamie Maclaren Melbourne City (AUS) 29 26
Forward Jason Cummings Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 27 1
Forward Mitchell Duke Fagiano Okayama (JAP) 31 20
Forward Garang Kuol Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 18 1
Forward Craig Goodwin Adelaide United (AUS) 30 10


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