South Sudanese Garang Kuol made an immediate impact in the A-leagues All-Stars match against FC Barcelona.
Throughout the 2021-22 Isuzu UTE A-League season, Central Coast Mariners teenager Garang Kuol expressed his undeniable talent to the Australian public with a series of outstanding cameos off his club side’s bench.
Now, he’s showing his wares to the world.
The 17-year-old came off the bench in the second half of the A-Leagues All Stars’ 3-2 defeat to FC Barcelona at Accor Stadium on Wednesday night, and impressed from the off.
His performance had everything but a goal, with the crossbar struck by one lethal effort, and the post shaved by another off the back of a driving run that began in the All Stars’ defensive half.
Garang Kuol made an immediate impact against FC Barcelona
Stood in the technical area for Barcelona was a club legend and head coach Xavi Hernandez considered one of the greatest central midfielders of his generation – arguably of all time.
Xavi could hardly believe Kuol’s age as he watched the teenage phenom fly around the park, causing all sorts of problems for the Spanish giants.
“He did really well,” Xavi told Network 10 post-match. “He created many chances and almost scored.
“(Seventeen)?… Maybe he’s a big liar!” Xavi said, questioning how a player can perform with such confidence at such a young age. “At (17), that’s unbelievable. All the best for him, and all the players.”
Xavi added his thoughts on the five-goal thriller: “Amazing (occasion). Amazing environment, amazing atmosphere. Very good, I think everybody enjoyed it.
“Five goals today, they played really well today I have to congratulate them. Because (it was) a really good level, they (played) so, so well.
“Very good, a good test, a good environment, and everybody enjoyed so that’s perfect.”
On that night, Xavi learned exactly what a bright young talent with potential can create if nurtured by a club like the Mariners, a club that instilled its belief in his talent and showed bravery to unleash it in a professional environment.
But what did Kuol learn about himself when coming up against one of the world’s biggest clubs? “I can be there one day, maybe,” he told Network 10. “That’s the main thing.”
Kuol added: “That’s sort of what I do, you know. I was unlucky I couldn’t score.
“It was amazing. As a kid it’s all you dream about, playing these top players. I’ve watched (some) of them since I was five… it’s a dream come true.”
Network 10 pundit Alex Brosque was impressed with the confidence shown by the teenager: “You can see with the confidence he has in his post-game interview as well, saying that’s what he does,” Brosque said. “I guess it’s that youthfulness he brings, that excitement.
“We’re expecting a big future, he wasn’t phased by anyone.
“It’s good to see; we want to see good young kids coming through, and confident young kids; he’s certainly one of them.”