Graham Arnold's reign as Socceroos coach got off to the perfect start after Australia romped to a 4-0 victory in Kuwait. Such is the gulf in class between the two sides that anything less than a 4-0 stroll could have been interpreted as a poor start, but Arnold will be content with the promising performances delivered by newcomers to the Australia set-up. He will also be emboldened by some of the showings from the old guard, with Tom Rogic at the heart of Australia's play.

It is perhaps unfair to refer to Rogic as a member of the “old” guard, with the midfielder still just 25 years-old. Yet he is at the perfect age to shoulder the responsibility of being the focal point of a side; young enough to grow with the team over the next decade, but old enough to have the self-assurance to dictate matches. Rogic was in the thick of the action against Kuwait, a dynamic and creative performance capped with a goal. Rogic showed a good understanding with Massimo Luongo, another relatively experienced and skilful midfield operator. Arnold will be hoping that they can hold their own against stronger midfields than Kuwait's.

Rogic will have to be cautious of complacency when transitioning between domestic and international football.

While Brendan Rodgers will not tolerate coasting at Celtic, questions over the rigours of playing for such a dominant domestic side are unavoidable. A look at the football betting highlights Celtic's Scottish supremacy, with bet365 even offering a market to bet on the Scotland Premiership with Celtic removed from the table. Despite their relatively ropey start to the season, anything other than Celtic atop the league table at the end of the season will be a huge shock.

Rogic has regularly delivered both goals and assists for Celtic, reaching double figures for goals in two of his three full playing seasons at the club. Those are impressive numbers for a midfielder regardless of the league, and Arnold will be keen for Rogic to bring that form to the national side. His goal against Kuwait marked his 8th for Australia in his 41st appearance, but Rogic has perhaps failed to make a sufficiently substantial impression against top opposition.

Six of those goals have come in thrashings against significantly inferior teams. An international goal is always something to savour, but Rogic will need to contribute in more crucial moments if Australia are to have an impact on major tournaments. He has shown that he is capable, notching against Germany in the Confederations Cup and scoring the winner in a 3-2 victory over Saudi Arabia in World Cup 2018 qualification.

The burden on Rogic may be lessened by the emergence of some exciting prospects. Rogic will know the dazzling winger Daniel Arzani well from Celtic, although Arzani is struggling for game time domestically for reasons that baffle his international admirers.

FC Midtjylland winger Awer Mabil scored on his debut against Kuwait, while defenders Alex Gersbach and Thomas Deng appear to have bright futures. Australia have a youthful vigour that has been absent in recent years. Arnold will be excited to see how far this young squad can go, but he will be relying on Rogic to step up and become a playmaker who can run the show.

Categories: Opinion | Socceroos

socceroos, tom rogic

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