Snow joke: Socceroo to miss World Cup qualifier thanks to a blizzard

A blizzard in Turkey has prevented first-choice left-back Aziz Behich from travelling to Melbourne to link up with the national team for the must-win World Cup qualifier against Vietnam on Thursday night.

The Turkish-based Behich was one of a handful of players due to arrive in Australia late for the game, but he has not been able to get out of Istanbul due to poor weather that ruined his travel plans.

A blizzard has kept Aziz Behich from taking his place in the Socceroos’ side in Melbourne on Thursday.Credit:Getty

“Unfortunately he’s not been able to travel because he got stuck at the airport at Istanbul because of a blizzard, which is a shame of course, because he was very keen again to come and play for the Socceroos,” stand-in coach Rene Muelensteen told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“We have got plenty of cover to deal with that, it’s just another challenge we have to deal with,” said the Dutchman, normally Graham Arnold’s assistant but the man charged with taking the team on Thursday after Arnold tested positive for COVID-19.

Behich will now fly directly to the capital of Oman, Muscat, where his teammates will assemble for next Wednesday’s equally crucial qualifier against their Arab rivals following the Vietnam game.

His absence could pave the way for young Sydney FC full-back Joel King to make his national team debut, although Adelaide’s left-sided utility Craig Goodwin is another option in the position Behich has made his own in recent years.

“Joel King … it’s a possibility,” said Muelensteen when asked whether the 21-year-old, last season’s young A-League player of the year, would get a surprise start.

“We bring all the players in that we have always covered in every position. Certain players are so versatile they can cover more than one position [but] Joel has deserved his right to be selected.”

Goodwin, who has played as a left-back is more often used by Adelaide as a winger or wide forward. He, too, will be hoping to get a chance to stand in for Behich.

“He is a player that brings specific qualities with him, he has a great left foot, great delivery, we expect to be dominant on the ball and in that respect it means we are going to have a lot of ball in the opponents’ half, and that could be an option, yes,” said the coach, who is confident Australia can regain winning form at AAMI Park.

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