Van Marwijk must send an SOS to Arzani, insists Lazaridis

Socceroos great Stan Lazaridis has called on Bert van Marwijk to take a punt on exciting teenager Daniel Arzani, and reap the rewards at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Daniel Arzani

Daniel Arzani in action for Melbourne City Source: Getty Images

Concerned by Australia's lack of spark and creativity during their 4-1 humbling by Norway - the 60-cap winger believes the 19-year-old Melbourne City marvel could provide the answer as an impact presence in Russia in less than three months time.

Urging the Dutchman to cast aside his innate caution, Lazaridis sees a potential correlation with 1995 when Harry Kewell was thrown in at the deep end at the same age in the World Cup qualifier against Iran in Tehran and scored in a 1-1 draw.

"Daniel is a player who excites me," Lazaridis said.

"He attacks people and is somebody who can get you a goal, or create you a goal.

"I would take him to Russia ... I really like this kid and I think he could be someone who can come in and change a game.

"If you're chasing a game, he has the quality to do that.

"You have to ask the question: are you going there to try and make it to the next round?

"He's a talent who might help you achieve that. If you're down 2-0 and need something special off the bench, he's a boy who can make a difference.

"It was similar, in a way, when Harry was brought in for those qualifiers against Iran, and made such an impact (scoring in both legs).

"Of course he was playing for Leeds at the time but he wasn't known on the international stage."

While Australia were being turned over in Oslo, dual nationality Arzani - who also qualifies for Iran - was busy enhancing his reputation with another telling performance of pace, ingenuity and adventure in the 3-0 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Van Marwijk has ventured that he's not yet ready, but should Australia struggle to innovate against Colombia in the friendly at Craven Cottage on Wednesday (AEDT), he might have to reconsider and take another look at Arzani.

"For me, at the World Cup I feel we need to have players of the future: and he's the brightest we’ve got,” said Lazaridis, who along with former Socceroos Mark Bresciano and Mark Schwarzer were part of the panel consulted by the FFA over who to replace Ange Postecoglou.

"He has a go ... maybe I was similar in the way I played.

"He is somebody I can see stepping up. I wouldn't be afraid to play him, nor should van Marwijk.

"I would tell Arzani, if I was Bert, ‘go and show me what you can do in the front third. Go and win me a game. Let us see what you've got'.

"That was the message given to me when I played under Terry Venables for Australia.

"He'd say to me, 'Stan, you've got a license, just do whatever you want.

"He said, 'I can't teach you how to cross a ball. Just do it. When you're in those front 40 metres, just whip it in because you're the best I've got at that'.

"Sometimes that's all you need to be told.

"With Arzani, he's the best kid we've got and the one who gets me off my seat.

"Van Marwijk has nothing to lose by taking him to Russia, and everything to gain. Why not throw that curve ball and give him a shot?

"I don't think he'd be overawed by the occasion. He has no fear and I have huge wraps on the kid."

While unimpressed by a disjointed outing in Norway, Lazaridis said Australia cannot be judged until the warm-up games in early June against Hungary and the Czech Republic.

"The team are just finding their feet under the new coach and I don't think how we go against Colombia will be significant either, at this point," he said.

"I'm not too bothered about that one because he'll be having a look at certain players.

"But after that we need to get really serious and down to business."

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4 min read
Published 27 March 2018 at 11:45am
By Dave Lewis