Football Australia officials remain in talks with the government about Socceroos players being given quarantine exemptions to ensure their participation in a proposed World Cup qualifier against China on September 2 at Bankwest Stadium.
A month out from the start of the Asian Football Confederation’s third round of World Cup qualifiers, there are continued doubts about the current schedule.
Following their Sydney clash against China – which will almost certainly be played at an empty venue – the Socceroos are due to meet Vietnam in Hanoi on September 7.
With the squad for both matches due to be made up mostly of overseas-based players, FA is lobbying for a travel bubble that will ensure team members avoid a two-week quarantine period on their arrival in Australia.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, currently in Dubai following the completion of the Olyroos’ Tokyo Olympics campaign, is also hoping the potential travel bubble allows him to avoid a fortnight of quarantine on his return to Australia.
“The implementation of robust quarantine bubble arrangements that protect the health of teams, officials and the wider community will be absolutely central to our planning and discussions with Government,” a FA spokesman said.
It’s understood the AFC is keen to countries to host their scheduled home matches rather than have to revert to all group games being played in the one city as was the case with the closing stages of the second-round qualifiers in June.
First run of pre-season.#CmonCitypic.twitter.com/VZenetBDnO
Two A-League players who could be used in September’s Socceroos squad despite the competition not starting until October 30 – attacking pair Jamie Maclaren and Mathew Leckie – started pre-season training with reigning champions Melbourne City on Monday.
For 30-year-old Leckie, it’s a return to the A-League after 10 seasons in Germany.
Another of City’s Socceroos attackers, Andrew Nabbout, also trained after injury restricted to him to an appearance off the bench in his side’s 3-1 grand final win over Sydney FC in June.
City’s Olyroos quartet – goalkeeper Thomas Glover, defender Nathaniel Atkinson, midfielder Connor Metcalfe and attacker Marco Tilio – are in hotel quarantine following their return from Tokyo.
Olyroos attacker and free agent Mitch Duke has remained in Japan, perhaps pointing to his next move.
Elsewhere, Western United announced the signing of former Australian under-17 international striker Noah Botic, who has returned to Australia after a two-year scholarship deal with German club Hoffenheim.
United have also secured the services of former A-League goalkeeper of the year Jamie Young following his departure from Brisbane Roar.
Australian under-23 international keeper Jordan Holmes, who was part of the Olyroos’ extended squad in Tokyo, has been linked with a move to the Roar, as has former Brisbane Strikers gloveman and FFA Cup hero Bon Scott.
The Roar are also set to appoint former Matildas goalkeeping mentor Paul Jones to their coaching staff.
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