The Caltex Socceroos will end a four-year Canberra drought when they run out to play Nepal at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.
The match will be Australia’s first home fixture on the path to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and will also mark the Socceroos first game in the nation’s capital since November 2015.
Australia got their World Cup qualification off to the perfect start with a 3-0 win in Kuwait last month, and the squad will be looking to continue that form against a Nepal side ranked 161st in the World.
ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry said she is looking forward to welcoming the Socceroos back to the nation’s capital.
“We are expecting a bumper crowd for this premier sports fixture in Canberra,” Minister Berry said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Canberran’s to get behind our national team and build Canberra’s reputation as a world-class sporting and tourism destination.”
Graham Arnold’s side will start as overwhelming favourites for the match, and boast a strong squad with the likes of Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie and Mark Milligan, who will captain the team on Thursday night.
Arnold said he is pleased with the make-up of the squad, which is relatively unchanged from their match with Kuwait.
“Our group did very well in their first qualifier away from home, so I am pleased we’ve been able to maintain significant consistency within the squad,” Arnold said.
“Many of the players in our squad for this window have impressed with their clubs since our win in Kuwait, so we are confident that they will be ready to put on a great performance.”
One player who won’t line-up for the Socceroos on Thursday night is Canberra-born star Tom Rogic, who continues to work his way back to full fitness following a recent run of injuries.
Trent Sainsbury, who was one of Australia’s breakout stars at the last World Cup in France, will also miss through injury, while experienced Bristol City defender Bailey Wright will return to Arnold’s roster.
“Trent [Sainsbury] is managing a minor injury but remains on standby for the squad should we need to call him in,” Arnold said.
The Socceroos convened in Canberra on Monday morning, before holding a fan meet and greet event at Deakin Stadium that afternoon.
Seven-hundred and fifty fans watched on as the Socceroos underwent a light training session, before taking time out to participate in a photo and signing session.
Caltex Socceroos vs Nepal
Date: Thursday, 10 October 2019
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 8:00 pm (AEDT)