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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Australia recalls home-based players for match against Saudi Arabia


Australia coach Graham Arnold has recalled experienced winger Mathew Leckie among four home-based players in his squad for the World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos’ first match on home soil in over two years.

Leckie is joined by fellow A-League forwards Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout, along with Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant in Arnold’s 24-man squad for the November 11 clash at Western Sydney Stadium.

Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Adam Taggart were unavailable for selection “due to injury or quarantine”, Arnold said in a media release on Friday.

“However we have developed good depth in the Socceroos over the past few years and the squad that has been selected is one that we have full belief in to perform strongly for the Australian public,” he added.

Norway-based midfielder Gianni Stensness is the sole uncapped player in the squad.

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Australia has not played at home due to COVID-19 issues since defeating Nepal 5-0 in Canberra in October 2019.

It will have the support of up to 30,000 people at Western Sydney Stadium after authorities recently lifted caps on crowd sizes at sports venues as COVID-19 vaccination rates rise.

Despite playing 11 of its 12 qualifiers for next year’s finals outside Australia, the Socceroos have put themselves in a strong position to seal a berth at a fifth successive World Cup.

Japan brought an end to its 11-match winning streak with a 2-1 win last month but Australia is second in its group, three points behind the Saudis.

The top two teams from each group earn tickets to Qatar.

“The players selected for our upcoming FIFA window are brimming with excitement to return home and to play in front of Australian supporters, as well as their family and friends,โ€ said Arnold.

“The players will get so much energy from playing in front of a strong home crowd at a first class stadium.”

Australia’s following qualifier is against China on November 16 at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

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