Australia boost strike power for playoff
SYDNEY (AP) Australia has recalled Maccabi Haifa striker Nikita Rukavytsya after a three-year absence along with captain Mile Jedinak in a 30-man squad for its World Cup qualifying playoff with Syria next month.
The recall of Rukavytsya, who has scored four times in seven games for his Israeli club, reflects Australia’s struggles in front of goal recently in its qualifying campaign, in which it finished third in its group behind qualifiers Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Coach Ange Postecoglou retained 22 of the 23 players chosen for Australia’s past two games against Japan and Thailand, with defender Matthew Spiranovic missing out.
Aston Villa defender Jedinak returns after missing those two games with a groin injury.
”The players … all have the benefit of several club matches under their belts over the past few weeks, and I am confident whichever 23 players we settle on will be able to do the job next month,” Postecoglou said in a statement.
He will trim his squad to 23 next week.
The Socceroos’ two-leg playoff against Syria begins away in Malacca, Malaysia, on Oct. 5 before the home fixture at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Oct. 10.
The winner plays the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF in another two-leg playoff to secure qualification for the World Cup in Russia next year.
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Mitch Langerak, Danny Vukovic, Mark Birighitti.
Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Mathew Jurman, Ryan McGowan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Bailey Wright.
Midfielders: Mustafa Amini, Craig Goodwin, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi.
Forwards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren, Nikita Rukavytsya.