'Dilemma' for Arzani as Iran ponders poaching young gun

Pressure is growing on Bert van Marwijk to roll the dice and take Daniel Arzani to the FIFA World Cup, with a source close to the Iranian-born teenage star declining to rule out a switch to Team Melli amid declarations from coach Carlos Queiroz that he is “being watched closely”.

Though the Melbourne City sensation has represented Australia at Under-17, U-20 and U-23 level, he missed out on van Marwijk’s squad for last month’s friendlies against Norway and Colombia, and the prospect of being lured by the land of his lineage remains very real, with Iran also having qualified for Russia 2018.

Arzani, 19, stated publicly in February that he’s leaning towards Australia, with the 23-man World Cup squad to be announced next week.

But the admission from Queiroz that Arzani is on his radar for Russia has sparked new concerns that a rare talent could be lost to Australia, unless van Marwijk decides to take a leap of faith.

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“Of course Daniel would love to have been part of van Marwijk’s first camp but it wasn’t to be,” the source close to Arzani said.

“His first priority is really Australia and like any player he’s dreaming about playing at a World Cup.

“Hopefully he’ll be looked at again with fresh eyes by van Marwijk because it’s important to send a positive message to young Australian players who show they have significant talent.”

Dual nationality Arzani didn’t even make a preliminary list of 39 players for last month’s matches, and a results-driven van Marwijk does not see his role with the green and gold as fostering youth development.

“It’s hard to say what would happen if Iran did make an approach ahead of the World Cup to bring him on board, and Australia chose not to,” added the source.

“That sort of scenario would give any player a tough decision to make. It would be a dilemma.

“But right now, he’s just concentrating on doing everything he can to help Melbourne City produce something special in the finals.”

Queiroz told Fox Sports Asia earlier this week: “We follow with all the details all national team players.



“And with Arzani, we’ve been following him very closely.

“We have direct observations and analysis, and video analysis, of every single game of all national team players and he is part of our system.

“We’ve been watching very closely, we’ve been analysing all the games he’s been playing. We have deep research and analysis on him, and all the other players.”

Graham Arnold, who will succeed van Marwijk after Russia and lead Australia into January’s AFC Asian Cup in the UAE, has already announced his intention to call up Arzani.

Whether or not it will then be too late remains to be seen.

Iran have been drawn in the same group as Morocco, Spain and Portugal in June, while Australia will take on France, Denmark and Peru.


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3 min read
Published 12 April 2018 at 10:33am
By Dave Lewis