Teenage supersub Garang Kuol and former Scotland international Jason Cummings were included in Australia’s squad for the World Cup on Tuesday but experienced central defender Trent Sainsbury was a surprise omission.
Sainsbury has been a mainstay at the heart of Australia’s defence since the Asian Cup triumph of 2015 and coach Graham Arnold said it had been one of several difficult decisions he had to make.
“He hasn’t played for a number of weeks,” he told reporters from Doha, where the Socceroos will face France, Tunisia and Denmark in Group D in their fifth successive trip to the finals.
“Overall, I’ve gone for players like Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles, who have done exceptionally well and continue to do well.”
Arnold said the watchwords for his selections had been energy and adaptability with 17 of the squad playing at their first World Cup.
Apart from when Tim Cahill was on the pitch, goals have always been hard to come by for Australia at World Cups and the inclusion of Central Coast Mariners teammates Kuol and Cummings offers Arnold fresh, if untested, options up front.
Kuol, 18, has yet to start a senior professional match but blinding pace and an eye for goal have made him an electrifying force off the bench for the Mariners and in his one international for Australia. “The kid just needs to be himself,” Arnold said of the 18-year-old.
Cummings, who played twice for Scotland but qualifies for Australia through his mother, is an effervescent presence both on and off the pitch and has scored goals throughout his career.
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