Tom Rogic withdraws from Australian World Cup qualifying squad for personal reasons

Australia’s hopes of reaching a fifth consecutive World Cup have been dealt a huge blow, with star midfielder Tom Rogic withdrawing from the Socceroos roster.

The 29-year-old is without a club after leaving Celtic, despite leading the Scottish giants to a 10th league title over the past 11 seasons.

He cited personal reasons for his withdrawal.

The move leaves coach Graham Arnold without one of his main offensive weapons on his way to next week’s unmissable Asian play-off against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Qatar.

A win in the June 8 clash in Doha would herald a game against Peru the following week for a spot in the November men’s World Cup in Qatar.

“My focus now has to be on the players we have here in Qatar,” said Arnold.

“We have selected an extensive roster of quality players and I think we will achieve something special for Australia in the next two weeks.”

Socceroos officials will not call a replacement for Rogic, but will reduce the roster to 28 players for the coming matches, although the team has struggled to tear down its structured defense due to a lack of creative attacking midfielders.

Rogic (center) helped Celtic to their 10th Scottish title earlier this month.Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images

Rogic’s withdrawal follows him and several other leading players who will not be available for the most recent Socceroos camp in March due to a combination of COVID-19, injuries and personal reasons.

The Socceroos missed several big names and suffered consecutive defeats to Japan and Saudi Arabia during that period to miss automatic qualification and be forced to the play-offs.

The rest of the Australian squad will gather in Doha on Thursday morning for the side facing Jordan in a friendly.

Arnold said he would use the warm-up to give playing time to players who hadn’t played in recent weeks as he looked forward to honing his team for the playoffs.

The UAE, meanwhile, has completed their preparations with a 1-1 draw against the African country of the Gambia in Dubai on Monday.

MONKEY

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