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  1. Soccer

Australian Football: Takeaways from Socceroos wins over Kiwis

Australia warmed up for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in fine style with back-to-back wins against New Zealand and now the countdown is on to Qatar.

Of course the Socceroos will face much sterner opposition at the World Cup. They kick-off the tournament against the current World champions France no less, before further group games against Tunisia and Denmark.

However you can only beat what is put in front of you and the Socceroos did just that with a 1-0 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane before travelling across the Tasman to beat the Kiwis on their own patch.

Graham Arnold’s men won the game at Eden Park 2-0 and there were plenty of positives to take from both of the games.

It is time to look forward to the World Cup but Arnold and indeed the Socceroos fans would have learnt a lot from the two games against New Zealand.

So let’s take a look at some of the takeaways from the double-header and what we can expect heading to Qatar.


 

Jason Cummings has booked his place on the plane

The Central Coast Mariners strike star was not involved in World Cup qualifying despite an impressive run in the A-League and calls from fans and media alike to get him in the side.

Arnold finally gave him a chance against New Zealand and he grabbed it with both hands. Coming off the bench in the 63rd minute at Eden Park, Cummings lit up the game.

The Scottish star, who has dual citizenship with Australia, put in an energetic performance and capped it with a goal to put the game to bed late on.

Cummings was involved in the build-up to the penalty when his shot struck the hand of a New Zealand player. The striker showed confidence when immediately grabbing the ball before slotting the penalty.

The Socceroos have plenty of attacking talent but Arnold will have to make room for Cummings in his squad. He has bags of talent and character and knows where the back of the net is.


 

Garang Kuol also stars and should be heading to Qatar

The 18-year-old is the talk of the town and could also be the talk of Toon, following reports that English Premier League side Newcastle United are close to signing him.

And the Central Coast Mariners starlet showed a glimpse of why there is so much interest in him. Fresh from impressing against the might of Barcelona while playing for the A-League All-Stars, Kuol again showed his class, this time on the international stage.

He came on to the pitch in the 73rd minute to replace Marco Tilio and his cameo appearance will have excited the Socceroos fans watching from home.

The youngster dazzled and made the second goal, which Cummings scored from the penalty spot. It will be a huge surprise if Kuol does not head to the World Cup. It is the biggest stage of all but will not daunt Kuol, who takes everything in his stride.

It is an amazing rise from Kuol, and although he needs to keep his feet on the ground, it is hard not to get excited about his talent.


 

Graham Arnold faced with selection dilemma

Coaches always say that selection headaches can only be a good thing, and Arnold will now be delighted to have one.

Arnold named a 31-man squad for the games against New Zealand but he cannot take that many players to Qatar so some will be gutted to miss out.

Only 26 Socceroos players will make the trip to Qatar and Arnold has plenty of thinking to do before he names his final squad in December.

He has some time and injuries can happen before then, but there are some tough decisions to make. Only a handful of players will be locked in already, the other spots are up for grabs.

The biggest omissions from the squad could be Tom Rogic and Rhyan Grant, who have been out of form and have plenty to do to convince Arnold they are worthy of place on the plane.

On the other hand, players such as Cameron Devlin, Harrison Delbridge and Ryan Strain have played their way into contention along with Cummings and Kuol.

So it looks as though there will be one or two surprises in the final squad. Until then the speculation will rumble on.

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