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Young Reds Ready to Make an Impact
Mathew Doolan - 7th August, 2013
Adelaide United's squad for the upcoming season was predominantly confirmed prior to the appointment of Josep Gombau, and it is of little surprise that the recent additions to the Reds have been Spanish players who the club have sold to the fans as exponents of Gombau's style. While these imports will no doubt attract media attention and may bring fans through the gate at Hindmarsh Stadium, Reds fans have good reason to hope that local talent will have a chance to stake a claim for first team football in the coming season.
It is hardly rocket science to assert the arrival of a new coach at any A-League club will have an impact on the footballing development of its players. As each coach attempts to mould 'his' team after taking the job the first eleven will change, whether by design or necessity, bringing some unheralded players to the fore while other former regulars are lucky to even sit on the pine. The short history of the A-League reflects these extremes, with certain coaches, say the Culina, McMahon and now Edwards school, preferring to promote from 'within the family', while Adelaide United themselves have seen senior players like Jon McKain and Sergio Van Dijk frozen out in recent times.
Gombau has arguably the best coaching CV of any foreign manager in A-League history, learning his craft at Modern Football's most famous academy, Barcelona's 'La Masia', who have raised a number of the world's best, including Lionel Messi, Xavi and Carles Puyol, from talented teenagers to Champions League winners. So which young Adelaideans have a chance to break into the Reds First Eleven and showcase their talents on the national stage?
The young winger of a Sudanese background arrived in Adelaide's North via a Kenyan refugee camp, making the National Youth League squad after stints with Playford City and SASI. Mabil had a big season last year winning a senior contract with United in January before making his A-League debut on the wing for John Kosmina's side later that month. Awer capped off the season with a couple more appearances for the Reds, mainly off the bench, before being crowned NYL Player of the Year. He possesses plenty of raw pace, is not afraid to take his man on and scored a cracking goal from distance in United's pre-season run out against MetroStars earlier this week. He was recently selected for the Young Socceroos squad competing in Spain later this month, and considering his amazing story Awer will no doubt be hopefully of continuing his footballing fairytale over the next twelve months.
Melling will be joining Mabil in Spain this month, having done enough to impress Young Socceroos coach Paul Okon in his limited chances with United thus far. Jacob progressed from the junior sides of Modbury Jets to first the SASI program before being granted an AIS scholarship in 2011 alongside fellow Adelaide boy Ben Garuccio who is now at Melbourne Heart. He also featured in the Joeys squad for the U-17 World Cup in Mexico during 2011 before signing professional terms with United. Melling has the energy and tackling ability to hold the midfield together at Junior level, while his appearances for the Senior Reds have shown his enthusiasm and growing maturity with the ball at his feet. Melling's chances of first team football this coming season are increased with the departure of fellow local lad Fabian Barbiero.
AIS graduate Izzo has the unenviable, nigh-on impossible job of dislodging Eugene Galekovic as United's Senior shot-stopper this season. Despite his pedigree with Australia's Youth teams, being first choice for the U-17 World Cup in 2011 and the recently concluded U-20 World Cup in Turkey, Paul is only likely to feature for the Reds should Galekovic succumb to injury this coming season. Like Mark Birighitti before him Izzo's best chance of a break-through in the A-League may be at another club, although he may be patient enough to resist this move and instead aim to succeed Eugene as the club's #1. Izzo showed again why he is highly rated at the U-20s World Cup with great athleticism and shot-stopping despite their group stage exit, but an error passing out from the back against Cumberland in the Reds first pre-season game may point to an area of improvement likely to be of importance to Gombau if he insists on Barca-style distribution from his keepers.
Another footballing refugee Liberian-born Teeboy Kamara was thrust into the spotlight as the youngest ever debutante in the A-League during the 2011-12 season. Since then Teeboy has made news unfortunately for events off the pitch rather than on it. Rumours of a mysterious cardiac issue have seen him drop off the senior side radar, with some fans raising questions over the youngster's professionalism. These concerns may turn out to be grandstand gossip, but there hasn't been a lot of clarity from United regarding the now long running saga. While undoubtedly talented, whether Kamara is able to return to the Reds side and have an impact remains to be seen.
Posted by Mathew Doolan on 7th August, 2013.
Follow Mathew on Twitter (@mdoolsy)
More By Mathew Doolan
- Gameday for Gombau (31st July, 2013)