With four goals in his first seven Socceroos appearances, Awer Mabil is fast becoming a fan-favourite for the national team. But the modest 23-year-old insists that he is just pleased to be a part of a young Australia side that has plenty more to offer.
Mabil played his part in a solid team performance that showed great mental strength after twice seeing its lead pegged back by a determined Syria on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
The FC Midtjylland forward opened the scoring with a tremendous curling effort from outside the box, before further goals from Chris Ikonomidis and a late strike from Tom Rogic secured all three points for the Socceroos.
“This is such a good group to be a part of, a great team,” Mabil said after the victory, which confirmed Australia’s place in the last 16 at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.
“The philosophy suits everybody and brings out the best in everybody. You can see in the last two games that we’re carrying a good momentum. We still have a lot to give.
“Every player loved it. You can see the mental strength that we have today. We can’t wait to face whoever, it’s going to be really good.
“I’m really excited for Australian football. This next four years is going to be amazing with some of the young players we’ve got coming up and also the experienced boys who are here who have 50-plus caps.
“We’re learning from them and they’ll guide us through the next four years. It’s going to be an interesting and exciting journey.”
Mabil opened the scoring with an eye-catching left-footed strike to put Australia ahead shortly before half-time, and dedicated his goal to coach Graham Arnold, who he raced over to celebrate with after his shot hit the net.
“I felt quite confident as soon as I hit it,” Mabil said. “But it went so slow. I’m sure from the outside it went fast, but for me it went so slow - I couldn’t wait for it to hit the back of the net.
“It was really nice, it means a lot. [Graham Arnold] has given me a chance to help my country and it’s a chance I’ll always be thankful for.
“I dedicated my first goal to him also [in the friendly v Kuwait in October 2018], but that wasn’t official, so today it was good to get an official goal and dedicate it to him to say thank you for the opportunity.
“There’s always a pride to represent my country, and also be part of this group. It’s credit to the boys, they make it easier for people in the front third to score goals and that’s the fun part. I’m loving that role and it makes it easier for me.
“We stuck to what we know. We know if we do our jobs we are the best and that’s what we have to focus on. It was a great crowd and a great test for us to go into the next stage through these kinds of games.”