'Socceroos v Nobody?': Uzzie 'confused' by anomaly

'Socceroos v Nobody?': Uzzie 'confused' by anomaly

Australian Test opener Usman Khawaja has hit out at the “confusing” disconnect between football and politics ahead of the SocceroosFIFA World Cup qualifier.

Australia will play Palestine in Perth on Tuesday night, but the Australian government does not recognise Palestine as a state.

“I’m confused how we are playing a country that our government doesn’t even recognise,” Khawaja said in an Instagram post on Tuesday morning.

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“Is this Socceroos v Nobody? It’s all very confusing.”

Khawaja has been outspoken about the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict since Hamas’ October 7 attack.

He was last summer blocked by the ICC from displaying a peace symbol on his bat, and also from wearing shoes with pro-Palestine messages and colours. He wore a black armband instead, and was sanctioned.

Khawaja later released a line of t-shirts featuring a picture of the shoes he was banned from wearing.

Khawaja’s latest post featured a photo of the Palestinian team wearing their distinctive uniforms.

Usman Khawaja.

Khawaja released a t-shirt line featuring a picture of the shoes he was blocked by the ICC from wearing. Instagram

“Can’t wait for this. Palestinian flags will be flying everywhere … and they can’t ban them,” he said in reference to the shoes.

Meanwhile, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold confirmed there would be nine changes to the side that beat Bangladesh 2-0 in Dhaka last week.

For the Socceroos, the match against Palestine is effectively a dead rubber. They have already secured passage to the third round of qualifying having won each of their five second round matches.

Players of Palestine make the hddle during the AFC Asian Cup Group C match between Iran and Palestine at Education City Stadium on January 14, 2024 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

The Palestine team in action against Iran in January. Getty

“It’s about winning, but this window for me is also about testing some players and looking at the players in a different way of moving forward,” Arnold said.

“I’m happy with where we’re at with the depth of the squad.

“When I first started five, six years ago, if you put the starting eleven against the reserves, it could have been two or three nil for the starting eleven.

Kusini Yengi of Australia (L) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with his teammate during the FIFA World Cup Asian second qualifier Group I match between Bangladesh and Australia at Bashundhara Kings Arena on June 6, 2024 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

Kusini Yengi celebrates scoring the Socceroo’s second goal against Bangladesh last week. Getty

“Whereas I think these days the starting eleven against the subs, it’s 0-0, it’s a tough game.”

Australia won the reverse fixture in Kuwait last November 1-0.

The team is yet to concede a goal in any match in this stage – a record Arnold wants to keep intact.

“My expectations are always high for everyone. There’ll be no confusion. It will be a very well prepared team that will put in a great performance,” he said.

Graham Arnold, Head Coach of Australia looks on prior to the AFC Asian Cup Group B match between Australia and India at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on January 13, 2024 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold. Getty

“My goal for the players is to keep another clean sheet and go through this whole phase with no goals against.

“I think there’s only been three teams in the history of AFC football that have done that in this phase.”

Kickoff is at 10.10pm AEST, 8.10pm AWST.

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