James Troisi sprays Graham Arnold
Left-out creative midfielder James Troisi has whacked Graham Arnold for his Asian Cup selection, declaring the 23-man squad was “not picked on performance or merit”.
The Melbourne Victory man scored the winner in Australia’s 2015 triumph, coming on as a substitute in the final against South Korea to seal a 2-1 win. The 30-year-old was regularly picked by Ange Postecoglou on the road to Russia but found himself on the sidelines when Bert van Marwijk took the helm for the World Cup in June.
Troisi has shown sparkling early-season form in the A-League but it wasn’t enough to win a place in Arnold’s squad.
After being overlooked again, Troisi let his displeasure known.
“In my opinion I believe I should be there,” he said.
“Not just myself. There’s a couple of boys in this team. It doesn’t look like the squad is picked on merit and picked on performance.
“Everyone has their agendas and their favourites and their ideas. “I think I’ve done quite a bit for Australian football and I’ve got some close friends still involved so I wish them all the best.
“That’s football. We move on.”
Adding to Troisi’s disappointment is that he wasn’t informed personally by Arnold, who called around 30 players on Wednesday.
“Since the World Cup I haven’t been contacted … it’s disappointing on how things have been handled,” he said.
“A phone call would have been nice.”
Three Victory players were mooted as possible inclusions for the United Arab Emirates tournament — Thomas Deng, Terry Antonis and Troisi — but each missed out.
Arnold said all three were in the mix but the nature of the decision meant talented players had to miss out.
“Thomas is on a great journey … Terry Antonis is having a fantastic season. James Troisi is having a good season,” he said.
“The hardest thing is to fit 35, 40 players into 23. I have to make some tough decisions.
“Terry and James were part of that. It just shows you the depth of player we do have.”
He shrugged off the inevitable accusations of bias that will come his way as an ex-Sydney FC coach, saying “we all know what Victory fans are like” with a laugh.
Three locally based players were included the Asian Cup squad — Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth) and Josh Risdon (Western Sydney).
Arnold said calling Tomi Juric to tell him that he failed to make the squad was the hardest moment of his selection headaches.
The beanpole striker was the biggest name left out on Thursday as Australia prepares to defend its continental crown won four years ago with Juric’s help.
“Of course he was disappointed. That’s normal. I don’t expect him to be any different,” Arnold said.
“It’s never nice to ring up 10 players and tell them they’re out of the squad.
“Tomi understands clearly. He understands he needs to be playing club football. “I give them the time to ring and an explanation why. And what they need to do … buckle down, work hard and move forward.” Arnold said he believed the forward was a confidence player in need of a pep up — suggesting a change of scenery could help him.
“Tomi needs to believe in himself a bit more and test himself,” he said. “He belongs at the top level. He needs to play at the top level.”