March 17, 2022
By Ian Ransom
(Reuters) – Striker Bruno Fornaroli missed out on playing for Uruguay at senior level but is in line for an unlikely international debut at the age of 34 after being included in Australia’s squad for crunch World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Perth Glory forward Fornaroli represented Uruguay at junior level but has called Australia home for the last seven years and become one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the top flight A-League.
He only recently gained Australian citizenship and is still waiting on global governing body FIFA to green-light his selection for Graham Arnold’s Socceroos before next week’s home clash against Japan in Sydney.
However, he is in little doubt where his heart lies.
“I’m Aussie now. I have a son who was born here and I want to give my best for them and for the country,” he said on Thursday.
“This opportunity has come to me and I want to take it.
“I want to enjoy it and I want to give my best, 110% for the national team to try and qualify for the World Cup.”
Though boasting a tiny population of 3.5 million, Uruguay’s World Cup record leaves Australia’s in the shade, the South Americans having won the global tournament twice and made the quarter-finals in Russia in 2018.
Australia have never made it past the round of 16 but condemned Uruguay to one of its darker soccer moments, knocking them out of an intercontinental playoff during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
John Aloisi slotted the winner in a penalty shootout to put Australia into its first World Cup in 32 years, a piece of history Fornaroli has not been allowed to forget since landing Down Under.
“I was in Uruguay,” Fornaroli said of the playoff. “It was a shock for the country.
“This is football, you never know what is going to happen and this is why I love this game.
“Now I’m the other side, now I just want to remember that – the Aloisi goal.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Christopher Cushing)