Nestory Irankunda to make his Socceroos debut

Teenage sensation Nestory Irankunda will have free rein to torment Bangladesh’s defense when he makes his Socceroos debut in Dhaka on Thursday night.

After impressing national coach Graham Arnold in training and off the pitch at the Socceroos camp, the Bayern Munich winger is certain to get game time in Australia’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Bengal Tigers, whether as a starter or from the bench.

And when Irankunda is on the floor, the Socceroos will fit him, rather than the former Adelaide United star being forced to adapt to a set structure.

“I’m not going to try to control him and make him do things that aren’t his specialty,” Arnold said.

“He’s very, very good at doing what Nestor does and we’ll incorporate that into our style of play and into our system as well.

“There are just a few little things around his defensive side of things, but that’s why we need older guys on the field, some of them to help coach and guide those younger guys to get comfortable on the field.”

Arnold said the 18-year-old Irankunda had “fitted into the Socceroos culture extremely well”.

“He was very good. He’s got a lot of the older guys coming in which is good to see and he’s training really, really well,” the Socceroos boss said.

“I’m excited and happy that everyone is talking about the baby.

“He’s a great talent, but it’s not always just about talent. It’s also about where your career is going.

“He’s going to Bayern Munich, but it’s also about how much hard work he’s put in and how much he believes in himself to go to the next level.”

Arnold was also impressed with former prodigy Daniel Arzani, who has the chance to make his Socceroos debut following the 2018 World Cup.

“He brought some energy. Wherever he sits, everyone’s laughing which is great, but it’s been really good on the training pitch as well,” he said of the Melbourne Victory attack weapon.

“You can see he’s really committed and hungry to come back and be with us on the long road ahead.”

While Arnold declined to confirm his full starting line-up, he said Aston Villa third-choice goalkeeper Joe Gauci would start ahead of Victory’s Paul Izzo and Western Sydney’s Lawrence Thomas in the absence of long-time custodian and captain Mat Ryan, who has been rested since the clashes with Bangladesh and next week the battle with Palestine in Perth.

“It’s a good chance to see Joey again but he hasn’t played since he’s been at Villa so (it’s about) getting him on the pitch and making sure he works really well with the other two keepers and (goalkeeping coach) John Crawley ,” Arnold said.

“I’ve got some (selection) headaches, but they’re good headaches given the depth we’ve created and built over the last few years.

“When I look at the squad list, there are 10 to 13-14 players who are not here because of injuries or other reasons, but it shows that we are getting stronger and stronger, which is exciting.”

AFC Second Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Bangladesh vs Australia

Thursday, Bashundhara Kings Arena, Dhaka, 8.45pm (AEST)

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