Daniel Arzani loss opens door to A-League con­tenders for Asian Cup

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Aus­tralian Associated Press

Soc­ceroos coach Gra­ham Arnold says he and Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia will pro­vide any sup­port nec­es­sary to in­jury-struck star teenager Daniel Arzani.

The Soc­ceroos will look to the A-League to re­place in­jured star Daniel Arzani at the Asian Cup, with Dimi Pe­tratos and Craig Good­win namechecked by coach Gra­ham Arnold as con­tenders for Jan­uary’s tour­na­ment.

Arzani con­firmed a grim di­ag­no­sis of an ACL rup­ture this week by vis­it­ing spe­cial­ists in Barcelona, a blow that will end his sea­son. The in­jury is a huge set­back for both the 19-year-old, em­bark­ing on his first sea­son abroad, and for Aus­tralia.

Arzani was the youngest player at the World Cup, where he showed tremen­dous guile and po­ten­tial in three sub­sti­tute per­for­mances for the Soc­ceroos. Arnold said he was crest­fallen by Arzani’s in­jury, suf­fered on de­but for Scot­tish club Celtic.

“First and fore­most on the hu­man side it’s a blow for the kid. His life is foot­ball,” Arnold said. “I spoke to him a cou­ple of nights ago. We’ll make sure Daniel is well looked after … we’re there for him to re­hab him. If there’s any way we can get him back here to help with that, we will.”

Arnold be­lieves Arzani’s re­place­ment can come from home, just as the ex-Mel­bourne City ju­nior shot into the Soc­ceroos off the back of A-League per­for­mances.

While Rob­bie Kruse oc­cu­pies the po­si­tion of first-choice left winger, the de­mands of the Asian Cup means oth­ers will come into the fold in the United Arab Emi­rates, where the Soc­ceroos need to win seven matches in 27 days if they are to de­fend their ti­tle.

Arnold said Pe­tratos and Good­win now have “the chance to show what they can do” after be­ing named as trainon play­ers for two home friendlies this month. Their sta­tus means they won’t play in the first match against South Korea but could be in­volved in the se­cond, against Le­banon.

Pe­tratos was an un­used mem­ber of Bert van Mar­wijk’s World Cup squad and has un­doubted qual­ity, though is yet to fire in the Jets’ slug­gish sea­son. Good­win has wowed on his re­turn to Ade­laide United, scor­ing four goals in the last week, in­clud­ing a mes­meris­ing dou­ble in the FFA Cup fi­nal win over Syd­ney FC.

“He gives us some­thing dif­fer­ent as he’s re­ally the only left-footed left winger we have,” Arnold said of Good­win. “Craig is a great ex­am­ple of work hard, per­form well, play well in the A-League and you’ll get recog­nised and you’ll get re­warded. The mes­sage is clear for all the A-League play­ers.

“I’ve been out and watched a lot of A-League games since I’ve been back and I think the stan­dard has been fan­tas­tic. They will be watched and watched care­fully.”

Soc­ceroos squad for friendly against South Korea: Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Ryan, Danny Vukovic; Aziz Be­hich, Mi­los De­genek, Alex Gers­bach, Matthew Jur­man, Mark Mil­li­gan, Josh Ris­don, Trent Sains­bury; Mustafa Amini, Jack­son Irvine, Jimmy Jeggo, Mas­simo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic; Martin Boyle, Tomi Juric, Rob­bie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Awer Ma­bil, Jamie Maclaren, An­drew Nab­bout.

Train-on play­ers: Thomas Deng, Rhyan Grant, Craig Good­win, Dimi Pe­tratos.

Dim­itri Pe­tratos was touted by Gra­ham Arnold as a pos­si­ble in­clu­sion in the Soc­ceroos’ Asian Cup squad. Pho­to­graph: Mark Brake/GettyImages

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