Five Hyundai A-League stars remain on track for a FIFA World Cup berth after being named in Bert van Marwijk’s 26-man Caltex Socceroos squad on Tuesday.
Josh Risdon, Dimi Petratos, Daniel Arzani, Josh Brillante and James Troisi have all been included for Australia’s pre-World Cup camp in Turkey later this month.
After being named in an extended 32-man squad last week, all five players have survived the cut and will get the chance to impress the Dutchman when the Socceroos go into camp on May 20.
In a huge nod to the Hyundai A-League, 20 players included in the squad have featured in Australia’s domestic competition at some point in their careers.
Melbourne City young gun Daniel Arzani is the only uncapped player among the five A-League inclusions, though Dimi Petratos made his lone appearance for the Socceroos back in March.
Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante has six international caps and will be desperate to earn a spot in Russia after being cruelly cut just prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Victory playmaker James Troisi is gunning for a second World Cup after making two substitute appearances under Ange Postecoglou in Brazil.
Here we take a closer look at the five A-League stars in contention for Australia’s fifth World Cup campaign.
Fresh off winning the NAB Young Footballer of the Year award, Arzani has been handed a first call up into Van Marwijk’s preliminary squad after impressing for Melbourne City.
“He’s a young player, he has to learn a lot but he is someone who can make a difference,” explained Van Marwijk on Arzani’s inclusion.
“Maybe a World Championship is too early for him but I will not hesitate to nominate him if he can make a difference in the last 10 or 15 minutes.”
The 19-year-old made 15 starts in his breakout season and dazzled with his explosiveness, willingness to take players on and also managed to grab two goals and an assist playing primarily to the right of City’s attack but coming inside to act as a playmaker.
Petratos is another player rewarded for a fine season, guiding Newcastle Jets to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
After returning from a brief stint in Asia, Petratos notched up double digits for goals and assists, contributing to a goal every 115 minutes.
The 25-year-old debuted for the Caltex Socceroos against Norway, impressing on the left wing of van Marwijk’s 4-2-3-1 but can also play on the right wing or behind the lone striker.
Unlike Petratos, Brillante was a player who did not earn minutes under van Marwijk in March but impressed enough to earn a recall.
A rock in the centre of midfield for Sydney FC as they finished first in the Regular Season, Brillante ranked second in the entire Hyundai A-League for touches on the ball.
With a stocked midfield, with names such as Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine and Massimo Luongo included, Brillante also has experience at right-back having previously played there for Newcastle Jets.
Troisi has ended the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season on a high, playing a key role in Melbourne Victory coming from fourth place to win the Grand Final on Saturday.
The scorer of the winning goal in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Troisi this season grabbed five goals and four assists, playing in behind Besart Berisha for Kevin Muscat’s side.
While import Leroy George grabbed a whopping 15 assists, where Troisi shone was in playing the pass before the assist – notching up 11 ‘second assists’ meaning he was the equal fifth most creative player in the entire Hyundai A-League.
A right-back by trade, Risdon started under van Marwijk against Colombia and has been a regular when fit for Western Sydney Wanderers this season.
Risdon has already made six Caltex Socceroos appearances and acts as an option for van Marwijk in what he’s labelled a “problem position”.
Having earned a reputation for getting into attacking positions from deep, Risdon mustered up three assists in his first season in Red and Black.