[News] Socceroos whiz-kid Garang Kuol unbothered by World Cup hype

“I wouldn’t say intimidation – I find it more exciting, to see what you can do against players of that calibre,” he said.

“It’s a very exciting experience for me. Obviously, I’ve watching the Socceroos for a long time. The World Cup’s the biggest stage. I want to prove myself. I’ve just got to go into it with the right mindset. It’s all about having confidence in yourself and being ruthless, having that mindset to want to create something and make an impact.”

The one question mark over Kuol’s precocious ability is his fitness and capacity to run out 90 minutes, which remains a work in progress. He said he banked 120 minutes of on-pitch action in an intra-team match at Australia’s Aspire Academy base – the most substantial preparation the Socceroos will probably get before their World Cup campaign begins since, unlike other teams, Arnold has not arranged any formal friendlies.

“Intensity was a killer,” he said.

“I’m still getting used to it, the boys play quick, the ball just zips around. It’s a whole lot of chasing. We’re trying to mirror what France would do.

“Speaking with Arnie, it’s been very chill. He hasn’t really said much. He just told me he has plenty of belief in me. I’ve just got to keep training well and to prove myself.”

Kuol is one of eight siblings in his family, with older brother Alou an Olyroos representative who is signed to German Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart and also came through the ranks of the Mariners, who have three players in Australia’s World Cup squad. His other brothers, Teng and Didi, are also budding young professionals.

“It’s a journey we’ve all been as a family,” he said.

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“Three years back, my mum was driving me to Melbourne every two weeks, two hours there, two hours back. It’s a journey that involves me and everyone part of it. They’re very happy for me obviously. They just told me to do my best and make them proud.

“Before I went to the Central Coast Mariners I was playing NPL2 in Victoria, so training twice a week, which was a killer for me – I want to be training every day.

“As soon as I got to the Mariners I was training every day, which is what I wanted to do all my life. That’s really where my journey really started in terms of being a proper footballer. The impact it’s had on me has been massive. I’m just thankful for those of at the Mariners who brought me in.”

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