Barcelona manager Xavi hailed the talent of Central Coast Mariners youngster Garang Kuol following his stirring cameo against the Catalan giants.
Kuol was part of the A-Leagues All Stars coached by Dwight Yorke that went down in a spirited 3-2 defeat at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on Wednesday.
The 17-year-old has yet to start an A-League Men game but has already racked up four goals across nine substitute appearances.
Prior to Wednesday night his senior career minutes totalled a little over three hours and his Wikipedia page was just two short paragraphs.
But he looked every bit at home taking on the likes of Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves in front of 70,174 fans and his turn of pace troubled the Barcelona defence.
The teenager nearly put the All Stars 3-1 up when he found himself clean through on goal in the 66th minute and he also hit the woodwork in the dying stages.
“Dwight told me he was 16 or 17… it was a big surprise,” Xavi said.
“He was very fast and we conceded two or three chances because of him.
“He’s a great player and he has a great future, he is a talent that is obvious.”
Barcelona cancelled out goals to Reno Piscopo and Adama Traore, with their own Adama Traore and Ansu Fati scoring in the last 20 minutes to join Ousmane Demebele on the scoresheet to get the visitors the win.
Kuol, however, was the name on everybody’s lips.
While his rise might come too soon for Australia’s World Cup qualifiers next month, Graham Arnold or his successor as Socceroos coach could do a lot worse than consider Kuol if they were on the hunt for a genuine game-changer
Yorke, who will coach against Kuol domestically next season after agreeing to take charge of Macarthur FC, was just as complimentary about his talents.
“I didn’t know too much about him until I saw him close up and even then I was a little bit unsure,” Yorke said.
“We’ve had very limited time together, but you can see the talent that exists. He does surprise me, he certainly did surprise Barcelona.
“He should have got two goals and I’m pleased that the public get to see him because he’s one for the future.”