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Australia Socceroos vs Oman, Mat Ryan, Aaron Mooy

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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has backed key pair Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy to shine for Australia in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Oman in Doha despite their lack of recent club football.

The “home” clash against Oman – which had been scheduled for Sydney before travel restrictions and quarantine requirements forced it to be moved abroad – will be followed by another Group B qualifier next Tuesday against Japan in Saitama.

Goalkeeper Ryan and playmaker Mooy loom as important figures over the two games despite being starved of football.

Ryan’s move from the English Premier League to Spanish club Real Sociedad hasn’t led to regular football, with the former Central Coast Mariners keeper having started in just one La Liga match.

“He’s not playing at this moment but he played in La Liga last week and he’s in great form, so we’re very strong in that department,” Arnold told Socceroos Insider, before also praising the two other glovemen in Australia’s 25-man squad, Netherlands-based Danny Vukovic and Denmark-based Lawrence Thomas.

“We have three great goalkeepers. Unfortunately, the Australian-based goalkeepers at the moment are having trouble getting out of Australia because of the quarantine when they go home.”

Former Brighton teammates Aaron Mooy (left) and Mat Ryan are suffering from a lack of club football. Picture: Hollie Adams / News Corp Australia
Former Brighton teammates Aaron Mooy (left) and Mat Ryan are suffering from a lack of club football. Picture: Hollie Adams / News Corp AustraliaSource: News360

Ryan’s former Brighton teammate, Mooy, has made just five Chinese Super League appearances for Shanghai Port this year, the most recent on May 16.

With the CSL in a three-and-a-half month hiatus to allow China’s national team to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers, Mooy has returned to the United Kingdom to be with his family.

He is maintaining his fitness via a program devised by Socceroos strength and conditioning coach Andrew Clark.

“Aaron’s been back in Scotland with the family,” Arnold said.

“He’s been given an individual program. Andrew Clark went across to Scotland during the break (between international windows) and spent a week with Aaron.

“He worked him extremely hard on his own, and ‘Clarky’ came back and said he’s in great shape, and he could easily play a full game, so he’s in a very good headspace at the moment.

“He’s with his family and he’s very happy. He said he’s very fit and ready to go.”

If the Socceroos beat Oman, they will become the first nation in history to win 11 successive matches in a single qualifying campaign.

Arnold not focusing on Socceroos record | 01:33

The Socceroos currently top Group B in the third round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers.

The top two teams from Groups A and B will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup.

“We don’t look too far ahead,” Arnold said.

“Yes, it’s been a great start, but I expect that to continue.”

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – AFC Asian Qualifiers (Third Round)

Matchday 3: Australia v Oman

Friday, October 8

Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Kick-off: 5.30am AEDT

Matchday 4: Japan v Australia

Tuesday, October 12

Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan

Kick-off: 9.14pm (AEDT)

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