BRISBANE, Australia (AP)Australia’s head coach Graham Arnold has selected 18-year-old forward Garang Kuol despite his lack of professional experience but left veteran goalkeeper Mitch Langerak out of his 26-man Socceroos squad for the World Cup.

Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and Mathew Leckie were picked for a third World Cup, with Ryan leading the squad in Qatar.

Kuol is among the 17 players selected for a World Cup for the first time. He made just one appearance off the bench in a friendly against New Zealand but showed enough potential to convince Arnold he’s a potential star of the future.

”The make-up of our team reflects Australia’s multicultural landscape. Our boys come from all over the world, they all have different journeys, but we are united by one jersey,” Arnold said. ”We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the (qualifying) campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best and I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible.”

Arnold said 32 players had made a debut for Australia over the last four years and 68 players were picked for national duties in that time, with the bulk of World Cup qualifying games played away from home because of travel restrictions in place in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia clinched its spot at a fifth consecutive World Cup after back-to-back knockout wins, beating the United Arab Emirates in an Asian playoff before edging Peru on penalties in the intercontinental playoff.

”It’s been a unique and difficult qualification campaign,” Arnold said, ”and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad.”

Australia kicks off is Group D campaign against defending champion France on Nov. 22.

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