'Tonight, we will make history': Deng & Mabil reflect on making historic debuts together
Awer Mabil and Thomas Deng have reflected on what they said to each other before they made their Socceroos debuts together in a thumping 4-0 win over Kuwait in 2018.
The pair who have plenty of things in common, caught up for an Instagram Live Q&A during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Both Deng and Mabil found themselves in Australia after their families sought refuge from the conflict in Sudan and they hope their stories will inspire future generations.
“We were sitting next to each other on the bus and I said to Thomas ‘tonight we will probably make history if we come on,’ Mabil reflected.
“That history is a history for the youngsters and especially the African community — we opened that gate for them.
“We have probably inspired someone young who is going to become better than us.
“We painted this way so they can go on and paint a different road.“
Deng and Mabil attended the same school in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, played for the same local club and came through the A-League together, albeit with different clubs.
Deng made his A-League debut in 2015 for Melbourne Victory and Mabil made his mark in 2013 with Adelaide United.
They were reunited when Socceroos coach Graham Arnold handed the pair their international debuts in Kuwait, and that is something Japan-based defender Deng will always be thankful for.
“It also shows the African community that it's not impossible to be where we are,“ he said.
“As long as you work hard and you dedicate yourself, the opportunity is always there to be given.
“I am thankful to Arnie; it was a surreal moment that I will never forget.“
24-year-old Mabil, who graduated from Adelaide to Denmark’s FC Midtjylland five years ago, scored in his Socceroos debut and was assisted by his childhood friend.
It was an iconic moment and something that the pair are very proud of, but it was no surprise for Deng, who predicted that Mabil would score.
“I remember before you came on, I was saying that you were going to score,“ he said to Mabil.
“For us to both come onto the field, it was like a flashback of us playing together in the park.
“It felt like it was just another game.“
Watch the full Instagram Live Q&A video in the player below!
Their COVID-19 Situations
As the spread of coronavirus appears to be under control in Denmark and the government begins to ease restrictions, Mabil has returned to training with Midtjylland, but only in groups of six.
“It is getting better now, maybe next week we can start training as a team,“ he said.
Although, it is a different story for Deng as Japan continues to struggle with a surge in coronavirus infections and uncertainty around the J-League mounts.
“It's a shambles, we don’t know anything at the moment,“ he said.
“The J-League association is trying to figure out what is going to happen with the league, but with the growing numbers every day we don’t know what is going to happen.
“We have only played one game so far — they really want the league to happen, but at the moment it is very unlikely. “