Young Socceroo’s uncoachable brilliance
IT was the moment that showed why Daniel Arzani is going to the World Cup - and also why he is still very much a work in progress.
The 19-year-old should have been walking on air on Sunday afternoon, hours after learning he had made the cut for Bert van Marwijk's final World Cup selection.
Instead, in the heat of the Turkish sun, Arzani had a session to forget. Learning anew the ferocity of training at this level, the Melbourne City winger could make little impact, but wasn't short of advice from all sides.
"Make a run, Daniel, make a run!" barked one of the coaches, more than once. Then Arzani pulled up in pursuit of his man, convinced the ball had crossed the touchline and gone out of play. In the absence of a whistle, the game went on - and two senior players made clear that not playing to the whistle was a habit he should quickly forget.
And then it happened. A deflected cross fell into his path near to goal; with two defenders almost on top of him, Arzani used his right foot to trap the ball inside and behind his left.
You could call it a Cruyff trap, and both markers were left for dead. Another followed, beaten on the outside by one deft touch, before Arzani somehow cut the ball back from the byline on the left of goal with the outside of his right foot.
At the far post, Mathew Leckie lashed the ball home. It was two seconds' worth of brilliance, uncoachable and unbuyable.
"The fact that he is with the last 23 (players in the World Cup squad), that says enough," noted van Marwijk afterwards. "He is improving, he has to learn a lot but he is a player with something extra."
Out on the pitch, no one reacted. Those moments have to happen more often, and as part of a structure, for Arzani to impress those around him.
But it was still some moment. "Something extra" indeed.