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Asian Cup magic tipped for 'Wizard of Oz'

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold expects big things from star midfielder Tom Rogic at this month's Asian Cup despite his interrupted build-up.

Asian Cup magic tipped for 'Wizard of Oz'

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold expects big things from star midfielder Tom Rogic at this month's Asian Cup despite his interrupted build-up.

TOM ROGIC of Australia and Tamer Mohamd of Syria compete during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Playoff match between the Australian Socceroos and Syria at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia.
TOM ROGIC of Australia and Tamer Mohamd of Syria compete during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Playoff match between the Australian Socceroos and Syria at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Picture:Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

He's known as the 'Wizard of Oz' by Celtic fans and Tom Rogic has been tipped to create magic for the Socceroos at the Asian Cup by coach Graham Arnold.

Rogic sat out last weekend's 5-0 win over Oman at the request of his Scottish club as he continues his recovery from a knee knock but didn't appear to be hampered during the team's first training session in host city Al Ain on Thursday.


The attacking midfielder scored two quality goals during a high-intensity session led by assistant coach Rene Meulensteen at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.

His first strike, a blistering shot which flew past goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, provoked a roar of approval from a watching Arnold.

It's form which Arnold believes will make Rogic a serious contender to be the player of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

"Make Tommy happy, make him smile, miracles will happen," Arnold said.

"When you give him freedom and confidence and belief, get him smiling and make him happy, he's gonna be great."

Rogic was a lanky teenager who had emerged from futsal in Canberra to beat intense competition around the world to gain a place at the English Premier League academy in London when Arnold signed him at the Central Coast Mariners in 2012.

Since then the 26-year-old has become a key part of Celtic's domestically dominant team and is now a crucial element of Arnold's attacking plans.

With young gun Daniel Arzani and key midfielder Aaron Mooy injured, Rogic will be charged with taking on a leading role as the Socceroos aim to defend their Asian Cup title starting with Sunday's group stage opener against Jordan.

"When I had him he was growing into his body," Arnold said.

"He was this tall skinny guy and a little bit uncoordinated. But he's a beast now, he's a big boy. You look at the size of him and how quick his feet are, and his skill factor is incredible.

"There's not many talents that have come through Australia with that type of technique and skill as Tommy."

While Rogic is flying, winger Mathew Leckie is still battling to prove his fitness.

The Hertha Berlin representative is recovering from a hamstring injury and Arnold has until Sunday to make a decision on whether Leckie is fit enough to play some part in Australia's tournament or if a replacement player will be called upon.

The 27-year-old only did light work at Thursday's training session and Arnold says he'll need to do more over the next two days to secure his spot in the tournament.

AAP


AAP




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