UItimate U-turn, horrific deja vu in Socceroos final WC squad
Four players have been dealt the ultimate footballing heartbreak as Bert van Marwijk revealed the 23 Socceroos who will be living their World Cup dream in Russia.
James Troisi, Fran Karacic, Nikita Rukavytsya and Josh Brillante have been informed that their services won't be needed at the world's biggest tournament, meaning that Tim Cahill will head to an incredible fourth World Cup and teen sensation Daniel Arzani will also be on the plane.
The inclusion of late arrival Jamie Maclaren in the final group is easily the biggest surprise in the final round of cuts, with the poacher completing the ultimate redemption after an initial snubbing in the 26-man squad.
Brillante is no stranger to the misery of a last gasp snub, having been left on the cutting room floor at the same stage four years ago. While Troisi is perhaps the unluckiest of the quartet, with a knack of scoring big goals for his country over his 37 caps not enough to save him from the chop.
Tellingly, each of the four players left out failed to see the field in Friday night's warm up clash with the Czech Republic after Van Marwijk revealed there was no room for experimentation in personnel for the match.
The squad is now locked in, with the Socceroos to play once more- against Hungary on June 10 AEST - before making their way to Russia.
Here are the winners and losers from the Socceroos final squad for the World Cup…
The selection every Aussie fan wanted to see.
Van Marwijk may only be with the side for the Cup run, but by selecting the 19-year-old he'll leave a long term legacy with the national team.
Arzani becomes the youngest Aussie ever to go to a World Cup, and his selection shapes as a major nod to the A-League after his exploits with Melbourne City drew rampant calls for an international call-up.
Regardless of if he sees the field in Russia - which he could well do - the experience of being in the squad shapes as a massive boost to the teen's career.
Massimo Luongo and Mark Milligan, both now mainstays with the Socceroos, have both travelled to World Cups to not see the field, and have spoken extensively on the benefits of even just being around the group at such a major tournament.
The ultimate U-turn.
Just weeks after being left out of the 26-man squad to massive public outcry, striker Jamie Maclaren has been included in the final 23.
Recalled owing to an injury complaint for Tomi Juric, the Hibernian front man has apparently done enough in an incredibly short time in camp to prove himself worthy of a spot on the plane.
His inclusion boosts Van Marwijk's strike stocks and hands him a real point of difference up front.
Maclaren's poaching instincts and penchant for getting in behind defences provides a diverse option at No. 9, with Juric, Andrew Nabbout and Tim Cahill the other three players vying to lead the line.
He's done it.
Despite concerns over his fitness and lack of game time, a 38-year-old Tim Cahill will head to a fourth World Cup and get the chance to join an exclusive group of players to have scored at four iterations of the world's biggest tournament.
He might not be as dangerous as he once was, but no one is as credentialed at scoring massive Socceroos goals than the nation's greatest ever scorer.
Cahilltex is heading to Russia.
Clearly the most unlucky of the four omissions, James Troisi played 331 minutes on the road to Russia but falls at the final hurdle.
The midfielder has been a long term member of the national team set up and scored the goal that won the Aussies the Asian Cup in 2015, but that mattered little to Van Marwijk who had already axed mainstays Bailey Wright and Mitch Langerak.
Ultimately there was no space in the squad for the Melbourne Victory man, who was unable to compete with Jackson Irvine as a backup to first choice No. 10 Tom Rogic nor for a central midfield or wide berth considering Australia's riches in those areas.
Fellow A-League star Dimitri Petratos is a major beneficiary of the decision.
It's an awful sense of déjà vu for Josh Brillante, after he felt the anguish of having his World Cup dream cruelly snatched from him for a second time.
Four years ago, Ange Postecoglou decided against taking him to Brazil and now his successor Van Marwijk has ended his hopes of a seat on the plane to Russia.
Thought of as a contender to play right back due to his versatility, the defensive midfielder was unused against the Czech Republic as Milos Degenek was called upon to deputise at right back - it was a telling decision.
At just 25, there's still time for Brillante to get his chance at the World Cup, but its hard not to feel for the Sydney FC man as he feels football's biggest heartbreak again.
Plucked from obscurity to bolster the troublesome right back position, Fran Karacic was a real contender to make the final squad but reports suggest he just didn't do enough to impress at the team's training camp in Antalya.
His lack of English was reportedly a big obstacle, and ultimately centre-back Degenek is preferred as the back-up option to Josh Risdon in Russia.
The 21-year-old may be regretting his decision to select Australia rather than his native Croatia as his international nation.