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Young talents give Arnold confidence

Sydney: Australia head coach Graham Arnold is confident the Socceroos will make a positive start to their Asian Qualifiers campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 after a thorough selection process.

Arnold named the 23-strong squad on Friday, with Australia to play Kuwait away in their opening Group B match on September 10.

Arnold’s first Asian Qualifiers selection features a blend of international experience, and will offer further opportunities to numerous players at relatively early stages of their respective senior international careers.

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“I have spent the past month in Europe with one of my assistants, Rene Meulensteen, watching and speaking with our players and their coaches and we have been delighted with what we have seen and heard,” Arnold said.

“The players that have been selected in this squad are fit and ready to go, while many, such as Brandon Borrello at Freiburg, Ajdin Hrustic at Groningen, Milos Degenek at Red Star Belgrade, Adam Taggart at Suwon Bluewings, Jackson Irvine at Hull City, and Harry Souttar at Fleetwood Town, have made very positive contributions with their clubs."

“Our June camp and friendly in Busan was a really important time for us. While many of the senior players that had participated in three major tournaments since 2017 were left out to give them a chance to refresh mentally and physically, many young and emerging players were given the chance to enter or re-enter the set-up, which has helped us to develop our depth,” Arnold added.

Arnold’s squad for features 12 players with 10 or fewer caps, highlighting the rejuvenation that is continuing within the Socceroos’ set-up.

“I find it exciting for the Socceroos and the nation that there were so many more players in contention for this squad, and am expecting healthy competition for places in the starting side for Kuwait and our upcoming qualification matches as we target a winning start,” Arnold concluded.

Australia will spend a week acclimatising in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the Kuwait tie. Also in the group are Jordan, Chinese Taipei and Nepal.

Following Australia’s qualification opener against Kuwait, the Caltex Socceroos will play Nepal in Canberra on October 10, Chinese Taipei in Kaohsiung on October 15, and Jordan in Jordan on November 14.

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