Nestory Irankunda: Unfinished Product with a Long Way to Go

Nestory Irankunda: Unfinished Product with a Long Way to Go

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has hailed Nestory Irankunda for his growing maturity – but warned there was a ‘long way to go’ for the Bayern Munich-bound A-League prodigy to reach his full potential.

Irankunda scored from the penalty spot after coming on as a substitute in Australia’s 5-0 thrashing of Palestine in Tuesday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier in Perth.

It was the 18-year-old attacker’s first goal for the Socceroos in just his second appearance for the national team after debuting in last Thursday’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh in Dhaka.

‘He’s done everything we have asked,’ Arnold said in reflecting on Irankunda’s contribution on and off the field in the Socceroos camp.

However, it was a different story when he was part of the Joeys squad at last year’s under-17 Asian Cup, which Arnold attended.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has hailed Nestory Irankunda (pictured) for his growing maturity – but warned there was a ‘long way to go’ for the Bayern Munich-bound prodigy to realise his full potential

Speaking after the Socceroos outclassed Palestine 5-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Monday, Arnold revealed Irankunda was a popular figure with his teammates

Speaking after the Socceroos outclassed Palestine 5-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Monday, Arnold revealed Irankunda was a popular figure with his teammates

‘You could see he was a little bit immature there and wasn’t as disciplined as he should have been, but in this camp he has not been late to one meeting,’ the Socceroos boss said.

‘The older boys have really looked after him. He’s had a great camp.

‘Now he goes to Bayern, and it’s up to him. There’s a lot of hard work to do.

‘It’s just the start, it’s not the finish. It’s not like because you’ve gone to Bayern it’s all done.

‘It’s all about hard work, passion and drive. Of course he’s an exciting talent, but there’s a long way to go.’

Arnold also praised the ‘honesty’ of Tuesday’s man-of-the-match Kusini Yengi, who despite scoring a brace in Perth admitted he needed to improve and eliminate some ‘sloppy touches’.

‘The kid is very honest and he nailed his own performance,’ Arnold said of the former Adelaide United and Western Sydney marksman, who now plies his trade with English club Portsmouth.

‘He obviously did well, scored two goals and assisted in a couple, but there was some sloppy moments where he turned over possession that could have hurt us against a better team, but he’ll learn from that.

In form striker Kusini Yengi scored twice as the Socceroos defeated Palestine 5-0 in Perth

In form striker Kusini Yengi scored twice as the Socceroos defeated Palestine 5-0 in Perth

Thousands attended the match in Perth to support the visitors amid the current Gaza war

Thousands attended the match in Perth to support the visitors amid the current Gaza war

‘I’ve always been a fan of him. When he was at Adelaide and the Wanderers I could see that he had that strength, that power and that ability, and it’s just going to grow and grow.’

Yengi has now scored four goals in his past three Socceroos appearances as he continues to push for a permanent spot in Australia’s starting team.

‘My job is go out there and try my best and contribute to the team, and if I’m playing well and being successful, then I’m sure ‘Arnie’ (Arnold) will reward me,’ the 25-year-old forward said.

‘I’ve had some great experiences and now I’m getting to new heights representing the national team and gaining promotion (to the English Championship) with Portsmouth which is really exciting and fun.

‘I’m looking to build on those things next (season) and keep improving and scoring more goals and having an even better 12 months.’

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