TEENAGER Daniel Arzani offered a hint of what may be in store in Russia, with his super sub role inspiring the Socceroos to an unconvincing win over Hungary.
A minute after coming on in just his second international, Arzani cut inside and unleashed a strike that caught everyone off guard, particularly RP Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi, who should’ve done better.
But that’s irrelevant for Arzani, for whom the goal will provide a timely injection of confidence a week out from their World Cup opener against France in Kazan and offers the Socceroos another offensive option.
Bert van Marwijk fumed after a mix-up led to an own goal and Hungary equaliser but Arzani and fellow sub Jackson Irvine combined for a stoppage time winner. The 2-1 result in Budapest was Australia’s last game before World Cup duty, with the players departing for Kazan Sunday night (AEST).
Assistant coach Mark van Bommel said the day before the game that preparation form does not always translate into the World Cup proper and the Socceroos will hope that’s the case after the plucky home side took them to the wire.
Fatigue would no doubt have been a factor after the Socceroos’ heavy double-session schedule, with van Marwijk set to lessen the load as Saturday draws nearer.
Robbie Kruse sent a scare through the camp when he was slow to get up after a crunching first minute challenge.
Walking off the ankle knock, he got on the end of the Socceroos’ two best chances after finding space via intelligent runs – the first struck the crossbar from Aaron Mooy’s cross, but was whistled offside. The second he blasted over after Mathew Leckie’s cross.
Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury had ample possession as the Socceroos did not take enough risks, while the second half experimentation had mixed results as Sainsbury and keeper Brad Jones – playing together on a rare occasion – had a communication breakdown.
Jones’ half-time entrance for Mat Ryan presumably confirms him as the no.2.
Sloppy passes enabled Hungary to pressure the Socceroos, and they created enough chances to score with Massimo Luongo and Josh Risdon both clearing off the line.
The introduction of Mile Jedinak at half-time gave the Socceroos more presence and Tom Rogic found more space, getting his foot on the ball far more frequently than the opening stanza.
Irvine, who replaced Rogic, made some impact in his 30-odd minutes, while Arzani – who plays on the right wing for Melbourne City – seemed to thrive playing off the left, which enabled him to cut inside and unleash on his preferred right foot.
Making a difference with his preparedness to take risks, Arzani then received the ball after ghosting into midfield and released Irvine with a sublime pass that led to the late winner.
Half-time sub Tomi Juric came off 35 minutes later for Tim Cahill, who looked sharp, meaning 21 of van Marwijk’s 23 players were exposed in the two friendlies.