Socceroos squad makes history
DANIEL Arzani will become the youngest Australian to travel to a World Cup after Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk included the teenager in his final squad for Russia.
The Dutch coach unveiled his final 23-man squad on Sunday morning (AEST), cutting James Troisi, Josh Brillante, Nikita Rukavytsya and Fran Karacic loose from his training group.
The decision locks in Tim Cahill for a fourth World Cup, where he will attempt to become just the fourth man to score at four tournaments.
Mark Milligan also makes his fourth travelling party, while skipper Mile Jedinak will saddle up for his third.
But it's the inclusion of 19-year-old Arzani that's the most dramatic decision, sending the Melbourne City winger to the world's biggest sporting event less than five months after his first A-League start.
He could yet be the youngest player in Russia, with only Sebastian Szymanski of Poland - which is yet to confirm its 23-man party - younger. There's also a place for comeback kid Jamie Maclaren.
The ex-Brisbane Roar striker was contentiously dropped from the 32-man squad last month, only to be brought into camp due to fears over Tomi Juric's knee injury.
After assessment of the pair in the Turkey training camp and the 4-0 defeat of Czech Republic in Austria on Friday, van Marwijk has decided to keep them both. That decision has squeezed either Troisi, one of just seven players in camp to have previously been to a World Cup, or Rukavytsya out.
"Every step of the selection process has been difficult because the players have all given everything to make the final selection," van Marwijk said. "However considering many factors, we have now settled on our final squad for Russia.
"I believe this group of players can do Australia proud at the world's biggest football tournament if we continue to work collectively and intensively over the next two weeks and into the competition."
Brillante and Karacic have lost out for a right-back berth after Josh Risdon's star performance at the NV Arena on Friday.
In Milos Degenek, van Marwijk believes he has enough depth in the Socceroos' problem position, casting the Sydney FC midfielder and the unknown Croatia youth international aside.
The axed players were informed of the cruellest cut on Sunday and left Turkey that night.
The other 23 will enjoy a rare morning off to celebrate their achievements before getting back to business on Monday afternoon under the sweltering sun. Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo and Mat Ryan are the only other players in camp to have attended a World Cup before.
National team stalwarts Robbie Kruse, Tom Rogic and Trent Sainsbury were robbed of the chance to attend in Brazil due to injury, and will relish their selection.
The Socceroos will continue to train in Turkey this week before heading to Budapest for a friendly with Hungary on June 9 and Kazan for their World Cup opener with France on June 16.
AUSTRALIA SQUAD FOR THE WORLD CUP
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matt Jurman, Mark Milligan, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury Midfielders: Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic Forwards: Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos Axed: Josh Brillante, Fran Karacic, James Troisi, Nikita Rukavytsy