Can there be any further doubt? Does anyone still question Daniel Arzani’s right to a place in Russia?
Since missing selection for the Socceroos current squad, Arzani has taken his (already outstanding) game to a stratospheric new level that absolutely demands attention.
For some reason we don’t breed strong attackers in this country – certainly not world class attackers. We’ve had Viduka, Kewell and Cahill in recent memory.
Ray Baartz and John Kosmina back in the 70s, but few others spring to mind. Why is it that we can produce outstanding goalkeepers and defenders – midfielders also – but not strikers?
So what does a striker / attacker need to succeed?
A striker is working at the pointy end of the game where there is the least time and least space to do his (or her) work. Therefore he (or she) needs to be appropriately equipped to cope. The main tools a striker needs are:
Pace – this is obvious. Getting in behind defences is always attack Plan A for teams with fast strikers, but speed over short distances (eg, getting to a loose ball first) is also important.
Footspeed – this is less obvious, but if a player can take three steps to your two, he is favourite to beat you.
Vision – knowing where the goals are and knowing where your team mates are (or ought to be) is a skill. If you can draw two or three players to yourself, that must mean one of your team mates is free.
It is your job to give that player the ball and it takes intelligence and vision.
Finishing – ultimately, a striker must be able to finish and finish ruthlessly. A powerful and accurate shot from close range (or distance) is mandatory, but there are many other aspects to finishing.
Being good with your head is a bonus but there must at least be a level of calmness in front of goal so that you don’t waste chances by snatching at them.
Intelligence – again there are many aspects to this. An example of game intelligence is your ability to plan and carry out open play strategy. Another example is knowing when to go yourself or when to bring others into the game.
It’s good to be selfless in a team-game but strikers sometimes need to be selfish. It’s important to know when and to act upon that impulse without hesitation.
These are some of the tools of the attacker’s trade and Daniel Arzani has them in spades, like few other Australian players.
Obviously he's more of a winger than an out-and-out striker but that only brings other aspects into his game - like the ability to whip vicious balls into the danger zone.
Yes, he’s still only played a handful of A-League games but this kid blazes with talent. I would love to see him combining with the likes of Rogic, Mooy, Petratos, Leckie and Nabbout so please Bertie. Please take him to Russia.
Because if you don’t you can bet your life that Iran will.
Adrian’s latest book The Fighting Man is in the shops right now or available through Booktopia. Adrian also wrote Mr Cleansheets.