Football 1 year ago

Socceroos set for next World Cup test

  • Socceroos set for next World Cup test

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 07: Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Tomas Rogic and Aaron Mooy of the Socceroos look on during the national anthems during the International Friendly match between the Australian Socceroos and Greece at Etihad Stadium on June 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

There's been plenty of change at club level for the Socceroos but coach Ange Postecoglou will be keen to maintain their winning ways as they resume their World Cup qualifying effort.

With the A-League in hiatus, Postecoglou is likely to turn to his overseas-based stars, and therefore many of his most experienced heads, when he announces his squad on Wednesday for two matches next month.

Australia face Iraq in Perth on September 1 and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi five days later in the next phase of the road to Russia 2018.

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But many will be jumping on planes to Western Australia from unfamiliar settings as they adjust to new homes.

Tim Cahill leads the changes, having left Chinese football for A-League club Melbourne City.

While much has been made of the 36-year-old's fitness on his arrival in Melbourne, he's actually played club football more recently than other A-League players, having turned out for previous club Hangzhou Greentown last month.

It could be slim pickings for other A-League stars, given the lack of competitive football since the end of the league last May.

Locally-based Socceroos Alex Wilkinson - now of Sydney FC - and James Troisi - at Melbourne Victory after ending a Chinese stint - haven't started a match in months and could miss out as a result.

Jamie Maclaren, Matt McKay, Jason Geria and Josh Ridson will also be disavantaged by a lack of local football.

But other Socceroos with new club homes will return.

Aaron Mooy, having left Melbourne City for English club Huddersfield, via a loan from Manchester City, and left-back Brad Smith, now of Bournemouth after leaving English Premier League rival Liverpool, will come in.

Even captain Mile Jedinak could make an unfamiliar commute, heavily linked with a move away from Crystal Palace after being stripped of the club's captaincy.

Second-tier Aston Villa is a mooted destination for the 32-year-old midfielder.

The Iraq and UAE matches begin the third stage of Asia's qualifying route to the 2018 World Cup.

While all of Australia's preivous qualifying opponents have sat outside the FIFA's top 100-ranked sides, the next series of home and away matches will be tougher.

Iraq and UAE were semi-finalists at last year's Asian Cup, while Japan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand complete the Socceroos' group.

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