Bert favours debutants
Nabbout and teenager Arzani set for big roles against France
FOOTBALL: Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk has strongly indicated he is prepared to throw World Cup debutants Andrew Nabbout and Daniel Arzani into the cauldron of tomorrow night’s clash with France in Kazan.
With van Marwijk’s starting XI all but nailed down, 25-year-old Nabbout is expected to start up front against the French in just his fifth international.
And van Marwijk has signalled strongly that Arzani, 19, who has just 23 minutes of international experience, will feature off the bench.
The Dutchman is believed to be still weighing up whether to put captain Mile Jedinak on the bench or opt for his experience in the middle of the park, but the rest of his team seems set.
Nabbout seems certain to lead the line – a remarkable ascent for a player who van Marwijk plucked from the A-League just 10 weeks ago for his international debut, and who scored for the Socceroos in their 4-0 win over the Czech Republic two weeks ago.
Later in the game, Nabbout is likely to be joined by Arzani, who scored his debut international goal on Sunday against Hungary during an effervescent 17-minute cameo off the bench that included a defence-splitting pass for the winning goal.
“You saw in the last 20 minutes that Arzani played in Hungary, that’s the reason I took him in this squad,” van Marwijk said.
“He can make the difference. Everybody saw he can make the difference, that’s very important. He is a player who can help us maybe sometimes.”
Van Marwijk dismissed suggestions that Arzani’s confidence was overreaching, adding: “This is a good group. They call him kid. That says enough. He knows exactly his place.”
Nabbout has displaced Tomi Juric from the starting XI, his mobility and pace more suited to the coach’s plan.
“Andrew Nabbout, I saw him in Newcastle playing (in the A-League in March),” van Marwijk said.
“I’d heard a lot of information about him. I think he is also a player than can make the difference.”
The choice of Jedinak or Massimo Luongo in the centre of midfield alongside Aaron Mooy is likely to go down to the wire, with van Marwijk privately an admirer of Luongo but also cognisant of the need for experience in the Socceroos’ opening game.
READY TO GO: Socceroos Mile Jedinak and Andrew Nabbout warm up during a training session at Stadium Trudovye Rezervy in Kazan, Russia.