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Plenty to come from Irankunda after Socceroos debut

3 minute read

Fresh off his international debut against Bangladesh, young gun Nestory Irankunda is already eyeing scoring his first goal for the Socceroos.

AJDIN HRUSTIC. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Savouring his first taste of international football, Nestory Irankunda already has his sights set on working to make his next one even better.

And he's confident a first Socceroos goal isn't far off either.

The prodigiously talented 18-year-old winger made his Socceroos debut, with an unexpected start, in Thursday night's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bangladesh in Dhaka.

In steamy conditions, Irankunda passed to Ajdin Hrustic for the midfielder's heavily deflected opening goal - denied an assist by it later being chalked up as an own goal to Mehedi Hasan.

The Bayern Munich-bound winger showed flashes of his brilliance but was otherwise relatively quiet.

"Could've done better with my performance," he said.

"But I'm really proud to be capped for the nation and it's a dream come true for me."

Irankunda played on the right and was at his best when he managed to get in behind the Bangladesh defence.

"That was the instructions from the coaches. I reckon it was just my decision-making that kind of let me (down)," he said.

"But I did do the right thing sometimes.

"Obviously there's still space for improvement and hopefully I improve soon."

While Irankunda was modest about his performance, coach Graham Arnold was delighted with how the teenager fared on debut.

"Nestor was very good," he said.

"He's obviously got a lot to learn and a long way to go. But it was great to see him on the pitch."

Irankunda scored eight goals and notched six assists for Adelaide United last season.

In his national team debut, he scuffed one shot just wide of the post and skewed another off target after a lovely dance into the box - in warning signs of the goal scoring prowess that could yet come.

"Wow. Yeah I'm really happy with that," he said.

"I've just got to keep working and the reward will come.

"Hopefully I'll get a goal and hopefully many more as well."

Irankunda has soaked up the experience of his first full involvement with the Socceroos, after being called up as a train-on player in March 2023.

"I've learned a lot, to be honest and I can't really think of most of it right now but it's been a lot," he said.

"It's not my first time in camp, obviously it's the second time.

"Every time you come in, you learn something new.

"It's really different to club football and I'm really happy to be here with all the older boys."

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