Brisbane Roar captain Matt McKay is in line to win his 57th Socceroos cap after being named in a 23-player squad for Australia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Tajikistan in early September.
The midfielder is behind only veteran striker Tim Cahill (83 caps) and Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak (59 caps) in national team experience in coach Ange Postecoglou’s latest squad.
The selection is a huge boost for McKay and the Roar as they prepare to take on 2015 Hyundai A-League Champions and Premiers Melbourne Victory in a blockbuster pre-season friendly at Southport’s Fankhauser Reserve tonight (kick off 7pm).
Tickets ($10/$5) to tonight’s match can be purchased by clicking here. All-pre-sales go into the running to win an autographed Roar-Steadfast jersey.
McKay’s selection comes just 24 hours after former Roar W-League player Elise Kellond-Knight was one of two Westfield Matildas named in the FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star squad. The other was Sydney FC’s Lisa De Vanna.
Kellond-Knight, who was also an All-Star after the previous FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany four years ago, was among the Roar’s Magnificent 7 selections in the Westfield Matildas squad at the recent tournament in Canada.
She has since signed a professional contract to play in Germany with FFC Turbine Potsdam.
McKay, 32, said he was delighted to be part of the Socceroos’ bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“To keep my place in the Socceroos squad is one of my personal goals this season,” he said.
McKay admits his hopes of going to another World Cup will be boosted if the Roar return to winning form this season.
“It will definitely help me if the Roar are doing well so my full focus is on having a good season and helping the boys get back to where we want to be,” he said.
Unusually, the Victory have no players in Postecoglou’s latest squad following the recent transfer of their captain and Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan to United Arab Emirates club Baniyas SC.
Postecoglou has welcomed back Asian Cup heroes Robbie Kruse and Massimo Luongo as well as attacking midfielder Tom Rogic for the matches against Bangladesh in Perth on 3 September and Tajikistan in Dushanbe on 8 September.
“It’s a positive that we’ve been able to recall Massimo (Luongo), Robbie (Kruse) and Tom Rogic after they missed recent matches and they add attacking options to the squad for the two matches in Perth and Dushanbe,” Postecoglou said.
“All three have regained fitness and started the season in form so they come back in and give us plenty of options and good depth in an attacking sense. When you add them to the likes of Tim Cahill, Mat Leckie,Tomi Juric, Nathan Burns and Tommy Oar the fans in Perth have a lot to get excited about.
“We started the World Cup qualification process with a win against Kyrgyzstan in tough conditions and now we have to continue that in front of our own fans in Perth and then on another tricky away trip to Dushanbe.”
Postecoglou has also drafted Aaron Mooy, Adam Federici, Jackson Irvine, Ryan McGowan and uncapped goalkeeper Alex Cisak into the Socceroo squad, which will return to Perth for the first time since 2005.
They replace Oliver Bozanic, Chris Ikonimidis, Daniel de Silva, Ivan Franjic, Eugene Galekovic, Mitch Langerak, Tomislav Mrcela and James Troisi.
“The players we have brought into the squad have all started their respective seasons with some good performances and will get an opportunity to impress while they are in good form and fitness,” Postecoglou said.
Australia has never played Bangladesh or Tajikistan at full international level.
The Socceroos matches against Bangladesh and Tajikistan will be broadcast exclusively LIVE on FOX SPORTS 4 (channel 505) and on a one hour delay on SBS.
The squad is: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, Turkey), Nathan Burns (FC Tokyo, Japan), Tim Cahill (Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC, China), Alex Cisak (gk) (Leyton Orient FC, England), Jason Davidson (Huddersfield Town AFC, England), Tarek Elrich (Adelaide United FC, Australia), Adam Federici (gk) (AFC Bournemouth, England), Jackson Irvine (Ross County, Scotland), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace FC, England), Tomi Juric (Roda JC Kerkrade, Netherlands), Robbie Kruse (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Germany), Mathew Leckie (FC Ingolstadt 04, Germany), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers FC, England), Ryan McGowan (Dundee United, Scotland), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar, Australia), Mark Milligan (Baniyas SC, UAE), Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City FC, Australia). Tommy Oar (unattached), Tom Rogic (Celtic FC, Scotland), Mat Ryan (gk) (Valencia CF, Spain), Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou Greentown FC, China), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai FC, Korea Republic), Bailey Wright (Preston North End FC, England).