In form and with a history of scoring crucial goals for the Olyroos, Nicholas D’Agostino is confident he can deliver for the Socceroos in Thursday’s must-win World Cup qualifier against Japan.
The uncapped Melbourne Victory forward is part of an increasingly makeshift national team attacking unit with several key players either absent or heading into camp under an injury cloud.
On Sunday, Adelaide United winger Craig Goodwin was withdrawn from the squad due to being a close contact of a COVID-19 case, joining a list of absentees that already includes Aaron Mooy (COVID-19), injured pair Adam Taggart and Riley McGree and Israeli-based Nikita Rukavytsya — whose vaccination status has reportedly prevented him from receiving a call-up.
Mathew Leckie (groin) and Tom Rogic (ankle) are both in doubt for the Japan game, while striker Jamie Maclaren will miss the clash with Saudi Arabia in Jeddah due to his wedding.
That means coach Graham Arnold will almost certainly need to draw on untested players at international level in D’Agostino, Uruguay-born veteran marksman Bruno Fornaroli, France-based Denis Genreau and Melbourne City winger Marco Tilio to step up if Australia are to overcome the odds and qualify automatically for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
While he’s yet to earn a senior cap, D’Agostino scored several vital goals on the Olyroos path to last year’s Olympic Games and comes into camp having scored five goals in his past three matches.
That includes a brace in Victory’s 4-3 Asian Champions League defeat to Japanese side Vissel Kobe last week.
“Playing against Japanese players I know what to expect,” the 24-year-old said.
“I know they’re good technically, tactically, physically.
“They’re very sharp on the ball but I’ve had this conversation with Arnie after that game once he congratulated me on the phone … they’re not great defensively.
“So there’s plenty of opportunity to score goals, as you saw on Wednesday night. We did that, scored three away from home.
“At the moment I’m flying high … hopefully I can get out on the pitch on Thursday and just help the team anyway I can.”