Irankunda headlines EIGHT A-Leagues stars in Socceroos squad as Jets striker gets first call-up

Adelaide United star Nestory Irankunda has been named alongside seven fellow Isuzu UTE A-League stars in an extended 25-player squad for two 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June.

The Socceroos face Bangladesh in Dhaka (June 6) and Palestine in Perth (June 11) to round out the second-round qualification phase for the major tournament.

Graham Arnold’s side has already secured their spot in the third round with four wins from four in the current phase and as a result, the Socceroos head coach has elected to rest several key squad members, including captain Maty Ryan.

It means opportunities have been presented to players who have impressed at club level leading into the June camp.

Uncapped Irankunda (Adelaide United) is joined by fellow hopeful debutants Paul Izzo (Melbourne Victory) and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos (Newcastle Jets) in the squad after their respectively stellar seasons in the Isuzu UTE A-League, while Victory winger Daniel Arzani returns to the Socceroos fold having excelled in his first campaign at the club.

The 25-year-old has not made a Socceroos appearance in almost six years.

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Daniel Arzani.

Central Coast Mariners star and Johnny Warren Medalist Josh Nisbet is back in the squad after his international debut against Lebanon in March, while Melbourne City’s Mathew Leckie, Perth Glory’s Adam Taggart and Western Sydney Wanderers’ Lawrence Thomas are also included.

The June camp presents Arnold with the opportunity to secure Irankunda’s international allegiance just days after the 18-year-old warned he was ready to commit to either the Tanzania or Burundi national teams if a call-up was not forthcoming.

Born in Tanzania to Burundian parents, Irankunda is eligible to represent all three nations at a senior level; a debut in the June World Cup qualifiers would tie the Bayern Munich-bound winger’s future to the Socceroos.

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Nestory Irankunda.

Isuzu UTE A-League players selected

  • Nestory Irankunda (Adelaide United)
  • Daniel Arzani (Melbourne Victory)
  • Paul Izzo (Melbourne Victory)
  • Josh Nisbet (Central Coast Mariners)
  • Apostolos Stamatelopoulos (Newcastle Jets)
  • Adam Taggart (Perth Glory)
  • Lawrence Thomas (Western Sydney Wanderers)
  • Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City)

For Izzo, the chance to debut for the Socceroos comes after a superb individual Isuzu UTE A-League Finals Series campaign. Izzo starred in Victory’s Elimination Final penalty shootout win, then saved a penalty in regular time of a shock Semi-Final second leg win over Wellington Phoenix.

Perth Glory’s Adam Taggart won the Isuzu UTE A-League Golden Boot with 20 goals in a wooden spoon-winning side and retains his spot in the squad as a result.

He’s joined in Arnold’s attack by Newcastle Jets revelation Apostolos Stamatelopoulos who comes into the camp fresh off a career-best season, having scored 17 goals to finish third on the league’s Golden Boot leaderboard.

Speaking ahead of the 25-player squad’s assembly in Thailand for an extended training camp, Arnold said he’s set the expectation to secure all six points in the upcoming window.

“I’ve spoken about how important these two games are when it comes to official FIFA rankings, and while we’ve qualified for round three it’s important that we take all six points,” Arnold said.

“It’s an expectation we set ourselves as a group and as always, getting our mentality right will be crucial to securing two wins and giving ourselves the highest possible ranking ahead of the draw for round three.

“We’ve got several players who’ve had significant workloads in recent times, and it’s important we give them a proper break. I want to ensure they’re physically and mentally prepared for another big 12-months of qualification.

“This has also allowed us to provide opportunities to players who have been performing well at their clubs as we continue to build depth right across the pitch.

“Our leadership group of Jackson (Irvine), Aziz (Behich) Mat (Leckie), Harry (Souttar) and Adam (Taggart) will have an important role to play throughout this camp in welcoming those players, as they demonstrate the core values that are central to the Socceroos’ culture.”


Bangladesh v Subway Socceroos
Thursday, 6 June
Bashundhara Kings Arena, Dhaka
Kick-off: 4.45pm local / 8.45pm AEST
Broadcast: Paramount+

Subway Socceroos v Palestine
Tuesday, 11 June 2024
HBF Park, Perth
Kick-off: 8.05pm AWST / 10.05pm AEST
Broadcast: 10, 10 Play, Paramount+