Ange never bothered watching me, reveals Socceroo hopeful Duke

Forgotten Socceroo Mitchell Duke is aiming to prove Ange Postecoglou wrong for leaving him in the international cold as he targets a FIFA World Cup spot.

Mitchell Duke

Mitchell Duke in action for Shimizu S-Pulse Source: Getty Images

With the new J1 League season kicking off Saturday next week and a new Australia coach at the helm, Duke’s hoping Bert van Marwijk at least has him watched, something he’s convinced that Postecoglou never did.

To add extra spice to his fourth year with Shimizu S-Pulse, the 27-year-old winger comes up against Postecoglou’s Yokohama F. Marinos on Easter Saturday - just five rounds into the season.

He admits he wants to show the former Australia coach that he was wrong to ignore him for his entire four-year tenure.

“I’m pretty motivated for that one, to be honest,” declared Duke. “I joke with my teammates about it, saying ‘now he’s on my turf and I can’t wait to show him what I can do.

“I really don’t think he ever had me watched. I know when Australia were playing Japan in their World Cup qualifier in Saitama (last August) they (assistants Ante Milicic and Peter Cklamovski) scouted Milos (Degenek) at Yokohama.

"But he was already in the squad. I was only an hour away on the bullet train from Tokyo playing against Urawa Reds.

“They could have come to see what I am about, and what I’m doing over here, but they didn’t.

“That was disappointing. I played almost every game last year and if they’d come and seen me and said ‘you don’t fit into our system’ then fair enough.

“I wasn’t making headlines, banging in the goals, and I think that’s maybe what he was more waiting to see.”

After the Samurai Blue comfortably disposed of Australia 2-0 in Saitama, perplexed Shimizu officials quizzed Duke on why he “wasn’t getting a look-in”.

“I have a certain level of respect at my club, and it was nice for them to say that,” said Duke.

“I do need to add some goals to my game but having played 31 J1 League games last season, and eight in the cup, I thought they might have at least kept tabs on me.

“I’m not saying I deserved to be have been called up, but I feel it would nice to have been looked at at some point.”

An A-League title winner as a striker with Central Coast Mariners, Duke is now deployed as either a winger or wide midfielder.

He believes he’s adorned his trademark all-action style with an array of technical touches since arriving in Japan, where he’s tasted both relegation and promotion and is something of a cult figure for his club.

Whether that’s good enough for van Marwijk to take a look, via a designated Asian scout, remains to be seen.

Duke is yearning for the opportunity to add to his four caps - and two goals - the last of which was nearly five years ago.

“I’d love to be looked at but I’m not counting on anything as I’ve been out of the national team set up for quite some time now,” he said.

“I’ve got big ambitions for this year with my club and if I do well, hopefully the rest will follow with the green and gold.

“I’m a proud Aussie I’d love to get back in. I’ve been playing regularly in a top league in Asia, so hopefully they will check me out.

“If I can add some goals to my game I think it will get people’s attention, and I need to be more selfish in that regard and take more responsibility.”

Duke never ceases to be impressed by the level of football in Japan when he assesses it through the lens of an outsider.

“We played a university team the other week in a pre-season hit out and those young boys were A-League quality,” he said.

“You see things here that look outrageous and crazy in terms of what you see in the A-League, but they are just the norm.

“The J1 League is a top class competition - it’s really difficult to play here.”

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4 min read
Published 13 February 2018 at 5:25pm
By Dave Lewis