Australia coach Graham Arnold has named his final squad of 23 players who will head to the United Arab Emirates to defend The Aussies' title at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The side will head to UAE for its pre-tournament training camp beginning on December 26.
Influential midfielder Aaron Mooy -- who is nursing a knee injury and wasn't expected to be fit in time -- has been named in the squad and is expected to join the team in the last week of December.
Commenting on Mooy's fitness, Arnold said, “The most important thing in and around all this is Aaron … he wants to go to the Asian Cup. He has asked for the second opinion. We expect that Aaron will be fine. We expect that Aaron will be in camp on the 26th, 27th [December], like the rest of the team.”
Arnold, who confirmed his squad at a media conference on Thursday, said he has selected a balanced and exciting group of players. “Our squad for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in the UAE blends youth with experience.
“Individually and collectively the players are determined to excel at the tournament and following the three positive camps that we have had since September I know that Australia will enter the Asian Cup with the best camaraderie in the competition,” he said.
Arnold's side has an average age of 26 and will see 15 players participate in their first AFC Asian Cup. The list includes Josh Risdon, Rhyan Grant and Chris Ikonomidis -- who will be making their debut in national colours, while
“It is exciting that 15 of the 23 players in the squad will be being attending their first AFC Asian Cup, and I am expecting that Australian fans will see some great performances from our kids throughout the tournament,” he said.
“In the short amount of time I have had in charge I feel that we have come a long way, and we will travel to the UAE expecting to win every match and ultimately lift the trophy in early February in Abu Dhabi,” Arnold added.
The Socceroos have been grouped with Jordan, Palestine, and Syria in Group B and will begin their campaign against Jordan at Al Ain's Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on January 6.
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