Australia coach Graham Arnold has called up uncapped striker Kusini Yengi into his squad for the team’s opening World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine.
Portsmouth striker Yengi and Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer are the only uncapped players in a relatively unchanged squad from the one that faced England and New Zealand in October.
Australia kick off a 16-game stretch to earn a spot at the FIFA World Cup 2026 in North America against Bangladesh in Melbourne on November 16, with Palestine to follow five days later in Kuwait.
Arnold said he had “complete trust and faith” in governing body Football Australia, which agreed to the neutral venue.
“That was a conversation obviously with the FA and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and Palestine because it’s their home game,” he said.
He also shrugged off concerns that the crowd in Kuwait could throw their support behind the Palestine team and create a more hostile atmosphere for the Socceroos.
“We will be ready for that,” Arnold said.
Australia made it to the round of 16 at the Qatar World Cup last year.
“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,” Arnold said in a statement.
“It’s important that we build and maintain a momentum that will see us be successful throughout this campaign and beyond.”
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