Arnold praises Hrustic: 'He’s going to be one of the stars of the future'
The Socceroos enjoyed an emphatic 3-0 victory on their FIFA World Cup Qualifying restart against Kuwait, it was a starting debutant who found himself in the limelight after delivering a man of the match performance.
Ajdin Hrustic, who plays his club football for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, encapsulated Aussie fans by dominating the attacking midfield area of the pitch right from the outset.
The 24-year-old won a penalty after 23 minutes by drawing a foul on the edge of the box and then capped off a commanding performance by scoring a stunning free kick.
Following the match, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was full of praise for Hrustic, who took his opportunity as a starter with the likes of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy absent.
"I do believe he’s going to be one of the stars of the future of the new generation," explained Arnold.
"Going from Groningen to Eintracht Frankfurt, I hadn't seen him for 18 months but now just physically, his body is stronger and he has developed more as a footballer.
"He’s got a great work ethic, a great professional, a great kid overall and he’s a joy to work with."
Hrustic credited his switch from the Netherlands to Germany as a driving factor for his successful national team starting debut.
"Mentally and physically I’ve matured a lot more as a player but also as a person," Hrustic explained.
"I’ve kept working hard, it’s paid off and as you see now, I’ve managed to help the team with a goal.
"I hope in the next three games it will continue."
MATCH REPORT & HIGHLIGHTS: The Socceroos overcome Kuwait on international return
Playing at the highest level in Germany, Hrustic made 11 appearances this season with 10 of those as a substitute.
Despite curling home a set-piece that nestled in the back of the net off the inside of the post from 25-yards out, it was no surprise to the former South Melbourne youth player.
"I train my set pieces daily at club level and I continued that as soon as I got into camp here," he said.
"I’ve been working on them because I think I have the quality.
"I’m happy that I helped the team with a goal but thanks to the boys for making it happen."
Hrustic only had three caps before this game - one in a 2014 friendly against Brazil and two World Cup qualifiers in 2019 against Taiwan.
He will be hoping that he can continue his form in the upcoming matches against Chinese Taipei, Nepal and Jordan.
His man of the match display has also provided food for thought for Arnold, who enforced there is more to come from his side.
"That (performance is) only 20 per cent of what you're going to get from this team," Arnold said.
"I expect a big improvement from the players - (they were) at times a little bit rusty and turned over possession a bit easy but this team is only going to get greater and greater."