The strong Hyundai A-League flavour in the Caltex Socceroos squad
The Hyundai A-League will be strongly represented at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with 19 current and former players named in Graham Arnold's 23-man Caltex Socceroos squad.
Current Australian-based players Rhyan Grant, Chris Ikonomidis and Josh Risdon have all been confirmed to be UAE-bound while 16 ex-Hyundai A-League representatives currently plying their trade overseas have also been named.
Read on to learn more about who will be proudly flying the Hyundai A-League flag at Asia’s most prestigious tournament come January.
Where it all began
Whatever starting XI is named by Arnold for that first game against Jordan on 6 January one thing is certain, it will be full of former Hyundai A-League players.
The likes of Maty Ryan and Aaron Mooy used skills learned on Australian shores to make big-money moves to the Premier League while UEFA Champions League representatives Tom Rogic, Trent Sainsbury and Aziz Behich all made their first team debuts with Hyundai A-League clubs.
Other European regulars Robbie Kruse, Mustafa Amini, Awer Mabil, Alex Gersbach, Matthew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Mark Milligan and Danny Vukovic have spent time with various Australian clubs before making the big move abroad.
The links extend beyond Europe however with Asian-based trio Mitch Langerak, Matt Jurman and Andrew Nabbout all donning the colours of various Hyundai A-League clubs throughout their respective careers.
It’s been a big week for Grant who, in addition to being selected to represent his nation, is also celebrating 10 years at Sydney FC.
After taking his game to new heights under ex-Sky Blues coach Arnold, the right-back has transformed into one of the Hyundai A-League’s most consistent players, terrorising defences with his ability to make driving runs forward.
The 27-year old made his Caltex Socceroos debut only last month, coming on as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Lebanon at ANZ Stadium.
Ikonomidis has lit up the early rounds of the Hyundai A-League since joining Perth Glory in the off-season.
The 23-year old winger has scored five goals in eight games for the Western Australian club and looms as a crucial attacking weapon for Arnold after the international retirement of Tim Cahill last month.
If he gets on the field it won’t be his international debut however with former Caltex Socceroo manager Ange Postecoglou handing him his first cap back in 2015 in a friendly against Macedonia.
Western Sydney Wanderers right back Risdon announced himself to the world when he played 90 minutes against eventual winners France at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Risdon more than held his own against the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann and the 26-year old has been a mainstay of the Caltex Socceroos’ backline ever since.
Now in his second year in Western Sydney since moving from hometown club Perth Glory, Risdon is set to once again showcase the Hyundai A-League on the world stage.