Al-Mutwa the Marvel is back
WHILE Thursday's second Asian Cup qualifier in the capital provides another opportunity to gauge the form of the local based Roos, my gut feel on this one is that the Kuwaitis won't be a push-over.
Indeed, this is a real danger game for the Socceroos, who are coming up against a side that has been preparing for the past couple of weeks in New Zealand, where they had handy wins over Auckland City and Waitakere.
Add to that the fact they are playing for a new manager - Serbian Goran Tufegdzic - and the fact they are desperate for a result after losing their first qualifier against Oman, and it'll be a desperate visiting team.
While they can also welcome in their most prolific front-man Ahmad Ajab, who I'm looking forward to seeing, I have to admit I am most looking forward to catching up with the form of one of their other strikers, or second striker, the live wire Bader Al-Mutwa, who I admit to falling in love with in Sydney back in August 2006.
That night he absolutely tore shreds off Mike Valkanis, putting the ball on the ground, jinking one way, then the other, so much so that the Adelaide defender looked lost. I hoped at the time that A-League clubs had been watching closely, but not surprisingly, his name didn't even draw a second mention, despite being the second best player in Asia in 2006. Even now, the lack of signings from Asia, be that Oriental or Arabic Asia, is still a mystery, but that probably says more about this country's lack of football know-how and laziness than anything else.
Since that game 18 months ago Al-Mutwa hasn't been sighted down-under, but his record of more than a goal every two games for club and country, and a goal in each of the NZ games, speaks for itself, so it'll be great to catch up with his form on Thursday.
In the meantime, here's a taste of some of his goal-scoring exploits for club Al Qadisiya.
The other striker available is Fahad Al-Rashidi, who bagged one in Kuwait's win over Auckland, so they certainly appear to have some goal scoring punch.
The same unfortunately can't be said of the Socceroos, who look to be lacking goal-getting depth, with Archie Thompson and Matt Simon the only out and out strikers after Allsopp was forced out and Macallister was left out.
That might (or should) bring Mitch Nichols right into equation, for he at least packs a goal threat from midfield and can also play as a second striker.
The other youngster that comes right into the reckoning is Michael Zullo.
Indeed, with three definite starters in Jamieson, Allsopp and Celeski (I've little doubt he would have started this one if fit after his impressive cameo in Jakarta) out, there are opportunities for the kids, and on current form both Zullo and Daniel Mullen should be there or thereabouts, along with Simon, and maybe Nichols.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley proved at Perth he is better in central defence, so despite a poor game in Jakarta, Dean Heffernan should move back from left midfield.
It's a tricky one for the Socceroos and they will need to prove they are mentally tough enough to step up at home, but if they underestimate the opposition, it might be a trickier night than many expect.