Aaron Mooy's decision to put the Socceroos first has ended in playing a key role in Australia's World Cup qualification.
No-one epitomised the Socceroos' single-minded determination to qualify for the World Cup better than Aaron Mooy.
Aaron Mooy Socceroos inclusion
- Aaron Mooy joined with the Socceroos in Qatar for their qualification campaign.
- The midfielder defied requests from his club to return to China, fearing getting stuck in quarantine.
- The risk paid off, with the midfielder being an integral part of both winning matches.
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The star midfielder came into camp in Qatar two weeks ago having not played a competitive match since February - Australia's 2-2 draw with Oman in Muscat.
With China still dealing with COVID-19, Mooy refused to return to the nation for Shanghai Port's preparations ahead of the Chinese Super League's delayed start this month.
Fearing quarantine restrictions could have left him unavailable for the World Cup play-offs against the United Arab Emirates and then Peru, Mooy chose instead to stay in Scotland.
He worked with coach Graham Arnold and high performance chief Andrew Clark to build up his fitness and sharpness.
Despite that, Arnold was left in wonder after Mooy not only played a full 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over the UAE but completed the entire 120 minutes of the Peru match on Tuesday night (Wednesday AEST).
Mooy even managed to score one of Australia's penalties in their 5-4 shootout win over the Peruvians to secure their spot at a fifth-straight World Cup finals.
AUSTRALIA ARE GOING TO THE WORLD CUP 🇦🇺â—ï¸— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 13, 2022
They defeat Peru in penalties to win the AFC/CONMEBOL Playoff 👏 pic.twitter.com/Si8HTs0JYb
"Aaron Mooy. Seriously, the guy is amazing," Arnold said.
"Hasn't played for months, but gets through 90 minutes against UAE and then gets through 120 minutes tonight.
"That just shows you mentally how strong he is and how much he wanted it."
The key now for Mooy, and the rest of those vying to be part of November's World Cup, is to find form and fitness before that tournament.
Scottish-born defender Harry Souttar, who was in the crowd at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium cheering on his teammates, is expected to have recovered from the ACL injury suffered against Saudi Arabia last November in time for the tournament.
Harry Souttar going to the World Cup! pic.twitter.com/t35D8pNn2w— Pete Smith (@PeteSmith1983) June 13, 2022
Arnold will also be hoping star midfielder Tom Rogic will be available after he pulled out of this squad due to personal reasons.
"We're going to go the World Cup with a lot of belief and from today it's a clean sheet," Arnold said.
"The best players need to get on that piece of paper."
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