Football: Soccer-Australia coach Arnold labels Hrustic future ‘star’ after Kuwait win


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia coach Graham Arnold has hailed Ajdin Hrustic a “star of the future” after the midfielder helped the Socceroos to a comfortable 3-0 win over Kuwait in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

In his fourth international, Germany-based Hrustic won a penalty and curled in a sumptuous free kick in a dominant display in Kuwait City as unbeaten Australia cemented top spot in Group B of Asian qualifying.

With Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic resting at home, Hrustic slotted into the creative midfield role with aplomb.

Arnold said the 24-year-old was a “completely different player” after moving to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt from Dutch team Groningen.

“I do believe that he’s going to be one of the stars of the future, of the new generation,” said Arnold.

“He’s got a great work ethic, a great professional kid, great kid overall, and he’s a joy to work with.”

It was Australia’s first international in 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic but they showed little rust as Mathew Leckie headed in an Aziz Behich ball in the opening minute.

Jackson Irvine netted from a rebound after Martin Boyle’s spot kick was saved by the keeper in the 23rd minute.

Hrustic capped a rousing win with his free kick after the hour-mark as the Socceroos extended their lead to five points over second-placed Kuwait in Group B with a game in hand.

Australia face winless Taiwan in their next Qatar qualifier in Kuwait City on Monday.

“That (performance is) only 20% of what you’re going to get from this team,” Arnold said.

“I expect a big improvement from the players – at times (they were) a little bit rusty and turned over possession a bit easy but this team is only going to get greater and greater.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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