Arnie’s young guns have a point to prove
WELCOME to the future.
The Socceroos are back in action, but even some of our diehard supporters might struggle to know too much detail about some of the players Graham Arnold has picked to kick off the World Cup qualifying campaign.
A dozen of the 23 picked to face Kuwait on September 10 have 10 caps or less, and we have to hope that they show the ability and temperament to stat racking up more.
Because there's only a handful of names who could come back in once injuries and fitness permit - Tom Rogic, Daniel Arzani, Martin Boyle, Andrew Nabbout, maybe Robbie Kruse.
But beyond that, these are the faces we have to put our faith in.
Really, this is a squad being picked for a year's hence, as much as to face Kuwait on September 10.
The first round of World Cup qualifiers should be relatively straightforward. We've had issues against Kuwait in the past, but a group containing Chinese Taipei and Nepal should be comfortable.
But along the way, these kids will be tested in terms of pitches, travel, conditions, hostile crowds. Get used to all that, prove it doesn't affect you, and suddenly you have a slightly more battle-hardened group ready for the second round of qualifiers against the big beasts of Asia.
Our past two long-term coaches, Ange Postecoglou and Arnie, have preached the importance of allowing players to grow into international football. It's a different kind of game, especially when your main experience is lower-tier club football.
Many of this group have very little international acumen to speak of, because of our miserable record at junior ages in recent years. Every time the U17s, or the U20s, or the Olyroos fail to qualify for a tournament - or don't go, for cost-cutting reasons - that's another chunk taken out of their learning.
It's like they failed a maths test, and were penalised by missing subsequent maths lessons.
So there may well be some stumbles along the way, but in the end these boys have to be given, and have to take, this chance to shine.
We could get a bolter come through later in qualifying, such as the way Arzani forced his way into the World Cup reckoning in 2018, but don't count on it.
Alarms have been raised about the likelihood of Australia qualifying for 2026 - but this group has a more urgent assignment to attend to.
SOCCEROOS SQUAD (v KUWAIT):
Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Aziz Behich (Istanbul Başakşehir, Turkey), Brandon Borrello (SC Freiburg, Germany), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca, Cyprus), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda, Saudi Arabia), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC, Australia), Ajdin Hrustic (FC Groningen, Netherlands), Jackson Irvine (Hull City, England), James Jeggo (Austria Wien, Austria), Mitchell Langerak (Gk) (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC, Germany), Massimo Luongo (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Awer Mabil (FC Midtylland, Denmark), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City FC, Australia), Mark Milligan (Southend United, England), Aaron Mooy (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Andrew Redmayne (Gk) (Sydney FC, Australia), Mathew Ryan (Gk) (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Trent Sainsbury (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders FC, United States of America), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town, England), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings, Korea Republic)