Here’s hoping Arnold lets Rogic and Amini loose
Graham Arnold and Gary van Egmond are leading the A-League forward (AAP)
It’s still a few weeks away, but hands up who else is licking their lips at the thought of watching youngsters Tomas Rogic and Mustafa Amini in the same Central Coast Mariners 11 in the run in to the finals and throughout the Asian Champions League?
With Amini and the rest of the Mariners’ Olyroos contingent not due back in Gosford until the end of next week, we won’t get to see them together this Saturday, against the Wellington Phoenix. But hopefully it won’t be too far away.
It’s a prospect that whets the appetite, two of the competition’s most exciting creative products, on the same pitch, at the same time.
Given that Amini will be off to German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund next season and that Rogic has initially only signed a five month contract, it’s a combination we might not get to see for too long.
So if they do come together, either in the A-League or Asia, here’s hoping it’s a blast.
But hang on, I hear you ask, don’t they both play in the same position, at the head of Graham Arnold’s midfield diamond?
Well, yes, but when you have players as prodigiously talented as these two, you find a way to integrate them both.
Good players, they say, can play anywhere, and when they’re on the same pitch as other equally gifted players, they are invariably on the same wavelength.
That’s what I suspect we’d get from Rogic and Amini, two game-smart footballers combining rather seamlessly.
If Arnold wanted to stick to his preferred diamond, he could comfortably use one at the head of his four-man midfield and the other as a second striker.
Looking at Rogic’s early work, both for the Mariners first and reserve teams, he looks a natural goal-getter and the type of player that can play as a second striker, where he can peel off into the wide areas and create from outside to in.
But for now, while Amini is away, Rogic is being used to un-lock the door from in behind the strikers.
Against the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Friday night, the Canberra-born youngster looked at ease in the number 10 role, gliding around the midfield in the opening exchanges, picking up the ball, shaking off opponents and dribbling into space, all the while keeping his head up, surveying his options.
Even before his superb opening goal there were a couple of snippets that showed his quality.
Watching him balance and control the ball with the left foot, it was perhaps no surprise to learn that futsal played a role in Rogic’s development, with the youngster representing the Futsalroos as the AFC Futsal Championships in Tashkent in 2010.
There’s no doubt that Arnold and his team have missed Matt Simon since his emotional Big Wednesday farewell, and while on-loan Heart of Midlothian striker John Sutton has been brought in to add some physicality, it might take Arnold a few weeks yet to find a workable front third.
In recent weeks Bernie Ibini has looked rather lost without Simon, while the likes of Adam Kwasnik, Daniel McBreen and Troy Hearfield have all struggled to fill Simon’s void on a consistent basis.
In that sense, Rogic and Amini, working together, influencing the Mariners’ front third, might help solve Arnold’s puzzle.
It’s a tantalising prospect and the hope is it might be the start of something big for Australian football.
Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA
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