Key players, injuries, tactics & tournament prediction

November 12, 2022


Australia head to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar looking to make it beyond the group stage for just the second time in their history.

In their five previous appearances, the Socceroos have managed to reach the knockouts on just one occasion, and have suffered three successive group exits.

Graham Arnold’s side have it all to do to ensure their Qatar campaign is memorable for the right reasons.

Here’s all you need to know about Australia ahead of the World Cup.

Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (FC Copenhagen), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners)

Defenders: Aziz Behich (Dundee United), Milos Degenek (Columbus Crew), Thomas Deng (Aibirex Niigata), Joel King (Odense Boldklub), Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts), Fran Karacic (Brescia), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Kye Rowles (Hearts), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United)

Midfielders: Aaron Mooy (Celtic), Jackson Irvine (St Pauli), Ajdin Hrustic (Hellas Verona), Bailey Wright (Sunderland), Cameron Devlin (Hearts), Riley McGree (Middlesbrough), Keanu Baccus (St Mirren)

Forwards: Awer Mabil (Cadiz), Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), James Maclaren (Melbourne City), Jason Cummings (Central Coast Mariners), Mitchell Duke (Fagiano Okayama), Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners)

Australia had concerns about long-term absentees Harry Souttar and Nathaniel Atkinson in recent months, but both have made recoveries in time for the tournament.

Ajden Hrustic and Kye Rowles have also both shaken off knocks in time to make the final squad.

Mathew Ryan

It seems like every major sport has a Matt Ryan (or Mat Ryan, in this case) that’s thriving. The Australia captain is the Socceroos’ most experienced active player and will stand between the sticks at a World Cup for a third time.

Aaron Mooy

Following spells with Huddersfield, Brighton and now Celtic, Aaron Mooy will be the Australian name that most Brits are familiar with. Even at age 32, the midfielder remains one of his country’s brightest stars and his ability to find the net from distance could prove crucial in such a tricky group.

Martin Boyle

Born and raised in Scotland, versatile Hibernian forward Martin Boyle passed on the chance to represent that Tartan Army in order to play for Australia. He has scored five goals in 19 games so far for the Socceroos and has been in fine form for Hibs since returning to Edinburgh from Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly this summer.

Garang Kuol

OK, look, in a realistic world, Australia stand no chance of getting out of the group. If there’s going to be a surprise team to get the better of France and Denmark, it’s Tunisia. They’re going to need a wildcard, and 18-year-old Newcastle United-bound Garang Kuol is the perfect candidate for such a role.

Australia are unbeaten in their five matches since the end of round three of AFC World Cup qualifying.

Arnold’s men saw off the UAE and Peru in their World Cup play-offs before doing a friendly double over rivals New Zealand.

Of course, Australia will be facing much tougher opposition in Qatar, and notably lost to the last two teams they faced that are also at the tournament – Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Australia’s last five results

Australia 2-1 Jordan
United Arab Emirates 1-2 Australia
Australia 0-0 Peru (5-4 on pens)
Australia 1-0 New Zealand
New Zealand 0-2 Australia

In case you haven’t picked up on the hints already, this World Cup could get ugly for Australia.

They are seriously lacking in the star power that has helped them in previous tournaments, and though Arnold has stressed that they are more than capable as a unit, it would be one of the stories of the winter if his side can even come close to getting out of the group.

But you never know what could happen at a World Cup. You can never pinpoint where the shocks will come. That’s a pretty uninspiring sentiment for Australia to live by, but it’s the best they’ve got.

Prediction: Group stage