Vancouver Whitecaps’ Nigerian-born winger, Bernie Ibini-Isei has been left out of Australia’s team to the World Cup, but his sister, Princess Ibini-Isei, who plays for Sydney FC, has three senior caps at the age of eighteen.
However, the male sibling, who was born in Port Harcourt, has been left off the Russia 2018 roster, despite already having two caps for Australia, which both came from international friendly matches against United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Ibini-Isei’s name was conspicuously missing when The Socceeroos’ coach, Bert van Marwijk named 32 players as part of his preliminary squad for the 2018 World Cup.
All 26 players who took part in van Marwijk’s first Socceroos camp in March, for friendlies against Norway in Oslo and Colombia in London, have been included in the preliminary list of players, while six new players are also in contention for selection.
Van Marwijk and his coaching staff will reduce the preliminary squad to 26 players next week before the team assembles in Turkey for the start of their pre-tournament training camp from Saturday, 19 May.
After an intensive period of training, Socceroos will play the Czech Republic in St. Polten, Austria on Friday, 1 June, in what will be one of the final opportunities for the players to press their claim to be included in the final squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The final list of 23-players is scheduled to be announced in Turkey on Sunday, 3 June, and the team will continue their build-up for the tournament with a further friendly against Hungary in Budapest on Saturday, 9 June.
Van Marwijk said the players that featured in his first camp deserved to retain their places, however admitted additional players have piqued his interest since Australia drew 0-0 with Colombia at Craven Cottage in London.
“I am not a person who changes all the time and we thought for a long time about the first squad that we selected,” said van Marwijk.
“I had a good experience with the 26 players in the ten days that I worked with them, so I had no reason not to nominate them again. But we have since seen other players so there will be a few new names in the squad.”
Since the conclusion of the Caltex Socceroos’ March camp, van Marwijk, his coaching staff and scouts have travelled to many locations across Europe, Asia and Australia to monitor the performance of potential players.
This includes the six players that have been added to his last squad – Daniel Arzani, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, Fran Karacic, Mitchell Langerak, and Jamie Maclaren – who have been monitored closely whilst playing for their respective clubs in domestic leagues.
“We have travelled extensively and watched many, many matches because we want to get as much information on as many players as possible,” van Marwijk explained.
“I am looking forward to the time in Turkey because there I will be able to work with the players every day, and most of the time it will be two times a day.
“In those few weeks it must be very clear for the players what we want (at the 2018 FIFA World Cup),” concluded van Marwijk.