Yengi completes dream with Socceroos call-up as Arnold ditches several stalwarts – including World Cup hero

Uncapped striker Kusini Yengi has earned a maiden Socceroos call-up for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine after a goal-laden switch to England. 

But veterans Milos Degenek and Andrew Redmayne have been dropped, alongside Tom Glover and forward Awer Mabil.

Goalkeeper Redmayne has had shaky form for Sydney FC while defender Degenek has been used sparingly by Red Star Belgrade.

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold unveiled his squad for the qualification window in Melbourne on Thursday, with Jamie Maclaren, Joe Gauci and uncapped goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer rounding out four inclusions.

Yengi came into calculations for a debut after successfully adapting to life with Portsmouth.

It is a dream come true for the 24-year-old who was born in Australia to a refugee worker father from South Sudan.

Famously, his dad Ben produced one of the most touching viral moments in A-League history when he first saw him play in October 2022.

“I was born in South Sudan so I’m really Sudanese by nationally but I’m also a ???????????????? ???????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????.” ????????

Stop what you are doing.

Ben Yengi at full-time after watching his son, Kusini, play Down Under for the very first time.


— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) October 9, 2022

Arnold had pencilled Yengi in for the September window friendly against Mexico only for the talented striker to be sidelined with an ankle injury.

The former Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United frontman has five goals in eight games for Pompey after making the move overseas during the A-League Men off-season. 

Yengi has averaged a goal every 40 minutes in appearances across League One and Portsmouth’s various cup competitions. 

The striker, who also qualifies for England and South Sudan, missed close to two months of action for Pompey, who sit atop of League One. 

Ahead of January’s Asian Cup, Yengi gives the Socceroos an extra dimension up front aside from the industrious Mitchell Duke.

Arnold has no major injury concerns ahead of the November window where Australia will be expected to pick up two wins. 

Next Thursday’s match against Bangladesh at AAMI Park is the Socceroos’ first on home soil since facing Ecuador in March.

(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Australia then face Palestine in Kuwait on November 21.

“We’ve had the opportunity to test ourselves against some of world football’s best in the last six months and our performances have shown just how effective we can be, learning a lot along the way,” Arnold said. 

“It was a chance to grow as a group, providing opportunities to younger players in preparation for the start of the 2026 World Cup qualification cycle. 

“Those performances have not only shown what we’re capable of, but reinforced a strong belief within this group as we begin an extremely important period.

“It’s important that we build and maintain a momentum that will see us be successful throughout this campaign and beyond.”


Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (capt), Joe Gauci, Ashley Maynard-Brewer*

Defenders: Aziz Behich, Jordy Bos, Cameron Burgess, Alessandro Circati, Lewis Miller, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Ryan Strain

Midfielders: Keanu Baccus, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe

Forwards: Brandon Borrello, Martin Boyle, Mitch Duke, Craig Goodwin, Jamie Maclaren, Sam Silvera, Kusini Yengi*

* uncapped

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