THE WORLD Cup hopes of two Old Firm players ended yesterday with Rangers midfielder Arnold Peralta ruled out of the Honduras squad through injury and Celtic youngster Tom Rogic failing to make the cut for Australia’s final 23-man selection after failing to prove his fitness.
Peralta has been suffering from a thigh strain picked up in Rangers’ last League 1 game of the season against Dunfermline over a month ago.
He has been unable to play in Honduras’s two warm-up defeats by Turkey and Israel and was ordered not to train by team doctors.
The day before manager Luis Fernando Suarez’s announcement of his final squad, Peralta was adamant he was physically fit and was ready to play. He had appeared to be winning the battle to make it to Brazil when boss Suarez stated: “Arnold is progressing well and we expect him to be fully fit for the tournament.”
However, following more medical advice, Suarez made the decision to ditch the 25-year-old and replace him with Real Espana’s Edder Delgado for the tournament. And Peralta was trying to keep a brave face on his pain last night.
In a series of tweets, he stated: “Thanks football! I remain happy because I know I always tried my best for Honduras and I fought my hardest until the last moment.”
Peralta made 24 appearances for the League 1 champions, but revealed earlier this year he wanted to use the World Cup as a springboard to land a move elsewhere. Rangers manager Ally McCoist insisted he was puzzled by any suggestion Peralta wanted to leave and stressed he expected the Central American to see out his four-year deal. Peralta netted his only goal for Rangers in a 3-0 win over Stranraer, but limped off the following week in the last game of the season at East End Park against Dunfermline. And that ultimately cost him his place in Brazil.
Emilio Izaguirre is included in the squad, as is former Hibernian midfielder Jorge Claros, and Celtic yesterday revealed how their wing-back handed out a batch of the club’s strips to a number of local teams in his homeland before reporting for World Cup duty.
Honduras warm up for the World Cup with a match against England this Saturday in Miami, and Izaguirre said: “We are a very humble people and we try our best at everything. We have hunger to win and hunger to do well for our country.
“We have a lot of problems in our country and all the footballers for the national team want to do well for the people of Honduras. I have lived in Honduras and started playing in the street and, like many people, I didn’t have too many opportunities, so this is why we try our best for our country.”
While Izaguirre is looking forward to the experience of his career at the tournament, his Celtic Park team-mate Rogic is coming to terms with being left out of the Australia squad.
The midfielder has long been touted as the most talented Socceroos player of his generation but had a nightmare season. After hobbling off at half-time with a recurrence of his groin injury during Australia’s warm-up win against Brazilian side Clube Parana, Aussie boss Ange Postecoglou has made a huge call by ditching Rogic. The Australian medical staff held a meeting before yesterday’s delayed squad announcement and Rogic was informed he wouldn’t be in the final 23-man squad.
Postecoglou explained: “Every step of the selection process has been difficult because the players have worked very hard since they came into camp but we have had to weigh up form, fitness and squad balance in coming up with the 23 players who will represent Australia at the 2014 World Cup.”
Rogic had insisted he was fit and ready for the World Cup, where the Aussies face Spain, Chile and the Netherlands.
He said: “I am not the first person to have an injury to deal with, you cop it on the chin and work hard to overcome it. It’s been frustrating at times. To be here right now is pretty special, I feel grateful and fortunate.’’
Rogic’s World Cup snub caps a disastrous season for the 21-year-old who was shipped out on loan back to his homeland with Melbourne Victory in January, after making next to no impact at Parkhead. But he failed to recapture his form and was often injured. Now he will be forced to sit at home and watch the World Cup again.
Former Rangers misfit Matt McKay, who made just three appearances for the Ibrox side, did make the final squad, as did former Hearts player Ryan McGowan who now plays for Shandong Luneng Taishan in the Chineses Super League.