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Socceroos v Kuwait: Five players with a golden opportunity in World Cup qualifier

1:09 PM SGT 9/9/19
Massimo Luongo Jackson Irvine Socceroos
Several green and gold stars will have a chance to make their mark in the first match of the Qatar cycle

Australia start their World Cup qualifying campaign with a tough match against Kuwait in the Middle Eastern country on Wednesday (AEST).

With the Qatar 2022 tournament still more than three years away, the beginning of the qualifying cycle represents an opportunity for several players to establish themselves as indispensable parts of the squad.

Injuries to several important players will also hand a chance to players to show coach Graham Arnold what they can offer.

Goal examines which players need to put their best foot forward in the opening match...

  • Adam Taggart Socceroos 2018-19

    #1 Adam Taggart

    Taggart has shot himself to the front of the Socceroos striking queue with 16 goals in 24 games for Suwon Bluewings putting him four clear as the K-League's top scorer.

    The 26-year-old appears to have finally got his body right, after a horrific run of injuries since his breakout season with the Newcastle Jets in 2013-14, and is primed to take hold of Australia's No.9 jersey.

    Other striking options Jamie Maclaren and Apostolos Giannou impressed in fleeting glimpses at the 2019 Asian Cup but failed to lock in a guarenteed starting position, with Taggart to now get that chance.

    It's important Taggart impresses right away in the role with Arnold likely to defer to the hard-working Maclaren if it doesn't work out.

  • Awer Mabil Socceroos

    #2 Awer Mabil

    Mabil enjoyed a breakout tournament for the Socceroos at the Asian Cup with two goals in five appearances, but you get the feeling he's likely behind Mathew Leckie, Tom Rogic and Chris Ikonomidis in the pecking order for an attacking role and needs to continue his progression to earn a start.

    The 23-year-old hasn't exactly set the world on fire either for Danish club side FC Midtjylland, scoring one goal and getting one assist in seven appearances so far this term.

    With injuries to Rogic and Ikonomidis, Mabil is going to get another opportunity to stake a claim as a starting XI player and the player himself is confident he will seize the chance.

    "People say I am a talent and this and that, but right now I am ready for the responsibility because I think I am coming to that age where I have to perform week in, week out," Mabil said in camp prior to the Kuwait match.

    "I am ready to do everything whether that is off the field, on the field, to make sure that I take that responsibility to be delivering for my country month in, month out, and week in, week out for my club."

  • Massimo Luongo

    #3 Massimo Luongo

    Since winning the player of the tournament during Australia's triumphant 2015 Asian Cup win on home soil, Luongo still hasn't been able to establish himself as a bona fide Socceroos starter.

    The 26-year-old has been the victim of managers trying to squeeze Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic into midfield, while he also hasn't exactly dominated when given an opportunity.

    Luongo is currently settling in at Championship club Sheffield Wednesday, having moved on from Queens Park Rangers, but appears to be at the stage in his career where he is ready to step up.

    With the retirement of Mile Jedinak, injuries to Rogic and Mark Milligan, Luongo needs to seize his opportunity and show why he can become Australia's leader in midfield for the next three years.

  • Jackson Irvine Burton Albion

    #4 Jackson Irvine

    Irvine is another midfielder who is yet to clinch a regular spot in the Socceroos starting XI despite having plenty of opportunity since the retirement of Jedinak.

    The 26-year-old appears to play his best football in an advanced midfield role for his Championship club Hull City, but that role is filled in the national team by Rogic.

    With Rogic missing from the squad with injury, Irvine may get an opportunity to stake a claim to play in his favoured position.

    There is also a chance Arnold may deploy him in the centre of midfield and ask him to be more defensive as he looks for a balanced engine room since Jedinak's exit.

    Having only made 13 starts for the green and gold in his career, now is the time for Irvine to emerge heading through the World Cup qualifying cycle.

  • Brandon Borrello SC Freiburg 2019-20

    #5 Brandon Borrello

    Borrello has emerged as an attacking wildcard following his solid start to the season with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg.

    The 24-year-old joined the German club at the start of last season but wasn't able to force himself into the senior squad because of injury and form issues.

    However, this campaign he has started all three games and impressed playing in a variety of attacking positions - including a playmaker role and winger.

    With several players absent from the team's attacking midfield area, Borrello could get a chance to show Arnold what he can bring.

    Arnold revealed the importance of Borrello to his plans in a recent press conference, suggesting the player's versatility and X-factor are strong assets.

    "Brandon Borrello is really exciting for me. He's doing great in the Bundesliga at the moment. I spoke to him just the other day, he feels great," Arnold said.

    "He's got a great mindset of hard work and these type of players in the front half of the pitch...the players we're getting coming through have that x-factor to change games, it's exciting.

    "The fact that he can play anywhere across the frontline is important."