Caltex Socceroos attacker Awer Mabil said coach Graham Arnold inspired him to score a debut goal against Kuwait by repeatedly telling him that he would hit the back of the net.
Mabil came on as a substitute in Australia’s 4-0 friendly win last month and the 23-year-old did as Arnold said, opening his Caltex Socceroos account with a well-taken finish in the dying stages.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Korea Republic in Brisbane, Mabil said Arnold had made camp feel like a “big family” and that he already felt comfortable in the Caltex Socceroos set-up.
“During that whole week [before the Kuwait match], ‘Arnie’ was putting into my head that I would score a goal on my debut,” Mabil said on Thursday.
“I didn’t believe it [at] that time but when I scored, it felt natural because he was putting into my head the whole week.
“That’s why I celebrated with him, because he helped me a lot.
“It was a good game for the whole team. First game under ‘Arnie’ and he talked a lot about bringing this [attacking] mentality into the national team.
“You can see his records in Sydney, what he’s done, it’s amazing to be part of this group and this big family.”
Mabil went on to hail Australia’s new system as “amazing” and reassured fans that the Caltex Socceroos would score plenty of goals despite the absence of Tim Cahill after next week’s friendly against Lebanon.
Cahill, who retired from international football in July, will play in the final stages of Tuesday’s match in Sydney to say farewell to the Caltex Socceroos fans.
“It’s amazing - the new system that we are playing,” he said.
“I think a lot of people have been asking ‘who is going to score the goals now that ‘Timmy’ has gone?’
“But I see no problem in that. I think we have a lot of qualities, a lot of players can score goals and make goals and the coaches are there to support us and make everything possible to make sure that Australian fans enjoy a lot of goals.
“And we have a lot of qualities to do that.”
Two goals and two assists in his last hit-out in the Danish Superliga have Mabil confident and in form.
But he is taking nothing for granted in his bid to be part of Australia’s AFC Asian Cup 2019 squad.
“I think we all know about the Asian Cup, everyone wants to be there but sometimes if you think too far ahead of trying to make the squad or something like that, then you forget the moment,” he said.
“And then the moment just passes and you miss every chance.
“I am not too far ahead of myself, I am taking it camp by camp and game by game to make sure that I help the team as much as I can when I am given the opportunity.
“If the chance does come, I will also be ready to give it my best.”
The Caltex Socceroos’ match against Korea Republic is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland in partnership with Brisbane City Council through Brisbane Marketing.