Less than a week out from the 2022 FIFA World Cup opener, we take a look at some of the exciting new Socceroos names that are set to feature in Qatar.

It’s getting close now. At just five days out from the 2022 FIFA World Cup opener, football fans around the country are gearing up for those six weeks every four years where excitement is high and sleep is minimal. For the Aussies, their tournament opener against France (Wednesday 6am AEDT) is also fast approaching.

So with the 26-man squad to represent the country now settled, who are the Socceroos to watch in Qatar? The likes of Mat Ryan (Socceroos captain) and Matthew Leckie are incredibly playing in their third FIFA World Cup, and are very much known quantities. As is the likes of Aaron Mooy, Aziz Behich, Jackson Irvine, Jamie MacLaren, Milos Degenek and Bailey Wright, who were all in the Socceroos squad for Russia 2018. But what about those experiencing their first World Cup? And of those who will likely feature on the pitch?

Ajdin Hrustic

  • Club: Hellas Verona (Italy)
  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Age: 26

In 2006, more than half of the Socceroos World Cup squad were plying their trade in one of Europe’s top five leagues (EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1). In 2022, there’s only two. One of those is Ajdin Hrustic, who is crucial to the Socceroos’ hopes in Qatar. Hrustic, who was crucial in Australia’s qualification campaign, is one of the first picked in Arnold’s side. However the number 10 does enter this campaign with an ankle complaint. The Aussies need him firing, and they’re confident he’ll be good to go for the France clash. If they’re any chance of causing an upset in that game (currently $13 with Palmerbet), Hrustic will need to be up and going.

Awer Mabil

  • Club: Cádiz (La Liga)
  • Position: Forward
  • Age: 27

The only other Socceroo playing in a top European league is the dynamic Awer Mabil, who plies his trade for Cádiz in Spain. Mabil has bagged four goals in his last 12 Socceroos appearances, including a stunner against New Zealand in what was Australia’s final home game before the World Cup. He has been consistently backed by Arnold and is likely to start most, if not all, games for the Aussies in Qatar. Mabil’s story as a South Sudanese refugee in Kenya who then travelled with his family to Australia is inspirational enough. That he went on to become a young A-League star before playing in various European leagues is all the more incredible. At $11, Mabil is a strong outside chance to be ‘Australia’s top team goalscorer’ at the World Cup with Palmerbet, given goals will be few and far between for Arnold’s men.

Garang Kuol

  • Club: Central Coast Mariners (A-League)
  • Position: Forward
  • Age: 18

The real bolter in this Socceroos World Cup squad. And at 18, if he takes the field in Qatar will be Australia’s youngest-ever player at a men’s World Cup. Kuol will present Arnold with the option that young winger Daniel Arzani presented in Russia; if he comes on will likely be in the final 20 minutes to make an instant impact with his pace and skill. Ironically, Kuol will overtake Arzani as the youngest-ever Aussie player at a men’s World Cup (Arzani was 19). The youngster will join EPL side Newcastle United on January 1, and is a hugely exciting prospect for Australian football.

The Socceroos are currently $1.14 to be eliminated at the Group Stage in this World Cup. If they’re to buck that expectation, they may just need a piece of something special from Kuol.

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