Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has opted to stick with the familiar and named a mostly unchanged squad from October friendlies for the upcoming Asian World Cup 2026 qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine.
Arnold ditched a pair of experienced players in Andrew Redmayne and Milos Degenek while bringing in a pair of 24-year-olds, with Portsmouth forward Kusini Yengi called up to his first international camp alongside the uncapped Charlton goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer.
Yengi, like Maynard-Brewer aged 24, has impressed at the League One club since joining from Western Sydney Wanderers in June, after scoring on his debut in August.
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Midfielder Massimo Luongo was again named in the squad after being called up for the first time in four years for the October friendlies against England and New Zealand in London.
Captain Mat Ryan returns as the most experienced of the 23-man squad, along with midfielder Jackson Irvine and defender Aziz Behich, with 11 players on fewer than 10 caps for the senior national team.
The Socceroos will start their World Cup qualification campaign against Bangladesh in Melbourne next Thursday.
“It’s important that we build and maintain a momentum that will see us be successful throughout this campaign and beyond,” Arnold said.
“We’re all really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd, the connection we have with our fans and the energy and support they bring is a huge driver for us – I know the players can’t wait.”
Arnold has chosen to mix new and old faces this year as he looks to the 2026 tournament.
“We’ve had the opportunity to test ourselves against some of world football’s best in the last six months, and our performances have shown just how effective we can be, learning a lot along the way,” he said.
“It was a chance to grow as a group, providing opportunities to younger players in preparation for the start of the 2026 World Cup qualification cycle. Those performances have not only shown what we’re capable of, but reinforced a strong belief within this group as we begin an extremely important period.”
Awer Mabil and Tom Glover were left off the list, while Riley McGree is recovering from a foot injury.
This second round of Asian qualifiers also serves as direct qualifiers for the 2027 Asian Cup. Australia will play Bangladesh, Palestine and Lebanon in a home-and-away round robin format between now and June. If they progress to the next stages there will be 16 games to play on their path to qualification.
Socceroos squad: Mat Ryan, Joe Gauci, Ashley Maynard-Brewer*; Aziz Behich, Jordy Bos, Cameron Burgess, Alessandro Circati, Lewis Miller, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Ryan Strain; Keanu Baccus, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Connor Metcalfe, Aiden O’Neill; Brandon Borrello, Martin Boyle, Mitch Duke, Craig Goodwin, Jamie Maclaren, Sam Silvera, Kusini Yengi.
Australia v Bangladesh – 8pm Thursday, 16 November, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Palestine v Australia – 1am Wednesday, 22 November, Jaber Al-Ahmed International Stadium, Kuwait