Celebrated author Steven Covey once said, strength lies in differences, not similarities. He was right, at least if you take a look at the squad representing Australia in the 2022 World Cup.
The Socceroos’ strength comes from its players’ diverse upbringings. And Australia’s willingness to accommodate people from all backgrounds. The team may have struggled to qualify for the World Cup.
But they would probably not have qualified at all if coach Graham Arnold decided to stick with Australia-born players only. Now, the Green and Gold are in Qatar thanks to the contributions of their diverse team.
2022 World Cup: A Look at the Australian Squad
The Australian squad in Qatar is one of the most diverse teams at this year’s World Cup. It’s is also highly talented—made up of the best players from successful clubs in the A-League and elsewhere around the world.
Let’s take a look at Head Coach’s Graham Arnold’s preferred first eleven. Matt Ryan of Copenhagen FC is the goalkeeper. The defense line is made up of Aziz Behich (Dundee), Kye Rowles (Hearts), Harry Souttar (Stoke City) and Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts).
In the midfield, Arnold picked Aaron Mooy (Celtic), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide), Riley McGree (Middlesborough), Jackson Irvine (St Pauli), and Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City). Mitchell Duke of Fagiano Okayama completes the 4-1-4-1 lineup.
Evidently, Australia’s starting squad is strong. But it fell short against superior side France. Graham will probably need to rethink a few players before the team’s next games.
Who do you think deserves more play time? Pick your own starting 11 using this squad builder. Compare your Australian national team line up at the 2022 Qatar World Cup with the official line up by Graham. Then follow the tournament to discover how well your preferred players perform.
Immigrants Playing for the Socceroos
Nine out of the 26 players representing Australia at the Qatar World Cup were born overseas. A few others were born in Australia but have one or both parents born in foreign countries.
This represents the diverse nature of Australia, whose history of inclusivity dates back to the 19th century. The most notable names in the Socceroo’s squad born overseas include:
- Awel Mabil
- Thomas Deng
- Milos Degenek
- Garang Kuol
- Harry Souttar
- Martin Boyle
- Jason Cummings
- Fran Karacic
- Keanu Baccus
The trio of Mabil, Deng and Kuol have been making headlines lately. That’s especially true for Garang, who’s expected to join Newcastle United in January. Mabil was born in a refugee camp in Kenya. His friends Deng and Garang were born in South Sudan and Egypt respectively.
Of the remaining six players, Boyle, Cummings and Souttar were born in Scotland. Milos Degenek and Fran Karacic were born in Croatia while Keanu hails from South Africa.
Australian Born Players with Diverse Backgrounds
Some Socceroos players in Qatar do not have any migrant stories. They were born in the land down under. Still, they are part of what makes the country diverse. Mathew Leckie, Craig Goodwin, Mitchell Duke and Brandon Borrello come from the major cities: Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney.
But there are a few others raised in rural Australia but fought their way to the national team. We’re talking about the likes of Andrew Redmayne, Josh Risdon, Rhyan Grant and Adam Federici.
Still on the team’s diversity, we can’t forget about Socceroos eligible to play for multiple countries but chose to represent the Green and Gold. Forward Jamie Maclaren, born to Scottish parents, initially represented Scotland as a teenager. But he later switched his allegiance. Luckily, he’s now playing in the World Cup.
Aaron Mooy, one of the outstanding players in the national squad, had the chance to represent both Germany and the Netherlands. Aziz Behich, who was in the lineup as Australia lost to France in the team’s first Group D match, could have represented Cyprus or Turkey.
Australia’s Immigration History
The Australian national soccer team’s diversity is a reflection of the entire country. Picture this. Nearly one in every three Australians was born overseas. To be more precise, 30% of the country’s population is made up of immigrants.
Additionally, 49% of Australians have at least one parent born in a foreign nation. Australia’s immigration story is still being written. But to explain why the country’s soccer team is so diverse, we have to look at the history of the beautiful game in the land down under.
Englishman John Fletcher is credited for introducing football in Australia during the 19th century. The game’s popularity grew popular rapidly, mainly due to the support of foreigners who had moved to Australia to find greener pastures.
Towards the end of the 19th centuries, soccer loving migrants created clubs to make the sport competitive. Immigrant groups from Greece started teams in Sydney and Melbourne.
Immigrants from Italy settled in Adelaide while Croatians setup teams in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Over the years, teams created by immigrants provide a source of entertainment to the country’s increasing population.
More importantly, the culture of immigrants embracing soccer solidified, helping Australia create teams that are good enough to compete for major competitions like the World Cup.
Australian Prospects at the 2022 World Cup
In 2018, France won the World Cup having fielded one of the most diverse teams in the tournament. Sixteen of the 23 players who helped Les Bleus win the competition were born overseas.
This year, Australia’s diverse squad has the chance to create similar history. But is the team good enough to break Australia’s record of losing at the round of 16? The short answer is that it will depend.
If Australia can bounce back from its loss to France and defeat both Tunisia and Denmark in Group D, the team will qualify for the round of 16. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. The only weak team in Group D is Tunisia, and that’s on paper.
When faced against Group D favorites Denmark, Tunisia fought hard enough for a draw. Denmark may have tied their first game. But they are known to give France trouble. In other words, Australia’s only chance of advancing from the group stage is to defeat its remaining opponents.