Aussies Abroad Wrap: Young stars shine after senior call-ups

With the international break now upon us, the weekend of matches just past proved to be the last chance for our Socceroos stars to find form before our crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Many of Australia's young guns including Nathaniel Atkinson and Gianni Stensness stood up and inspired their sides to victory after enjoying call-ups to the national side.

Meanwhile, crucial wins by Denis Genreau and Jackson Irvine have seen the midfielders close in on top-flight football next season.

Socceroos Japan

England & Scotland

The 'Wizard from Oz' Tom Rogic will be racing the clock to return from injury for the Socceroo's two crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers, as the midfielder was taken off after 33 minutes over the weekend. The incident came from a reckless two-footed challenge by Ross County's Kayne Ramsey, which saw Rogic helped off the field and the offender being given a red-card from the referee.

The tackle overshadowed a fantastic performance from both Rogic and Celtic FC, who stormed to a comprehensive 4-0 victory at home to Ross County. The win was vital as city and title rivals Rangers claimed 3 points in their match over the weekend.

One man that may be in line for his national team debut is impressive youngster Nathaniel Atkinson, who started and provided an assist in Hearts' impressive 2-0 home victory over Livingston.

Deployed initially as a wing-back, Atkinson found himself playing more centrally when out of possession, highlighting the trust that the Hearts' staff have on his defensive abilities. In attack however, the 22-year-old showed off his exquisite deliveries, floating a cross from the right hand touchline toward forward Barrie McKay who volleyed home for the side's second goal.



FC St Pauli have finally regained their position at the summit of Germany's second division, after a gritty 1-0 victory at home to promotional hopefuls Heidenheim. Midfielder Jackson Irvine was involved for all 90 minutes, as a goal midway through the second half secured what may prove to be the most important victory all season for the Hamburg outfit, in the quest for Bundesliga football next campaign.

Australia's talismatic number 10 Ajdin Hrustic was in action over the weekend in the Bundesliga, helping Eintracht Frankfurt to a draw away at title challengers RB Leipzig. The midfielder was brought on at half-time to help steady the ship in the 0-0 stalemate.

Mainland Europe

In France, recently selected Socceroo Denis Genreau proved crucial over a 70 minute performance for Toulouse in a 2-1 victory away at title challengers Auxerre. Now top of Ligue 2, holding an eight point safety net within the automatic promotion places with eight matches to play, Toulouse and Genreau look set for top-flight football next season.

James Jeggo and his team AS Eupen sit on the presipice of safety within Belgium's top division after a crucial 1-1 draw at home to top-half side Mechelen. Jeggo was involved from the start, helping his side take the lead early before holding firm for all 90 minutes as Eupen fought for a result. The point sees the German border-town side claw themselves above the league's bottom two by five points, with two matches yet to play.

Kortrijk were unfortunate in a 1-0 loss at home to league giants Standard Liege, with Socceroo Trent Sainsbury performing admirably against one of Belgium's most decorated sides. The Australian defender was involved for all 90 minutes as he marshalled a backline during one of the competition's most fluent attacks, with Sainsbury now determined to reverse the result during the international break, as Japan and Saudi Arabia await.

Joel King started once again in Denmark, yet the defender's consistent 90-minute role became disrupted, as his side look to preserve the talented 21-year-old over the next two weeks of international matches. His side Odensk BK fell to a 2-0 loss away at Vejle, with King involved for the first half of play, before being substituted as OB chased the match.

To Turkey, where Awer Mabil inspired his team to another victory in the Süper Lig, with safety almost assured after a 2-0 win away at Yeni Malatyaspor. The winger started the match and was dangerous for Kasimpasa before manager Sengül elected to bring the Socceroo off after an hour to avoid overloading the star before a tough period of international matches.

Aziz Behich meanwhile played a full match for his team Giresunspor but proved far more unlucky than his compatriot, with a 4-1 loss away to Antalyaspor keeping the heat on Behich's side. 

Fran Karacic was given limited minutes for club side Brescia, coming on at the 81st minute. However Brescia struggled in defence without the full-back, failing to win away at Pordenone, with the 1-1 draw seeing Karacic's team slip down to fifth, now four points behind the automatic promotion positions.

In Norway, Gianni Stensness played all 90 minutes in a 5-0 rout against KFUM, with his side Viking Fotballklubb getting off the best possible start in the Norwegian Cup. The midfielder will join his national team for the first time before returning just before his league campaign starts in Scandinavia.

Asia & The Middle East

It may not have been a return to the winner's circle last week for Mitch Duke and Fagiano Okayama, but the forward still managed to hold out the league's runaway leaders Yokohama in a 1-1 draw.

Starting the clash within the first eleven, Duke and his teammates showed no signs of hesitancy, up against the J2 League's strongest backline, scoring early from the spot and threatening the team that had not yet dropped points this season. An equaliser with 20 minutes to go broke Okayama hearts, yet the side will have plenty to build from heading into a two-week hiatus.


United States

A 95th-minute equaliser spared the blushes of Columbus Crew, who spooned plenty of opportunities to win away at fellow Eastern Conference challengers New York Red Bulls. Milos Degenek was involved from the start once again and seemed untroubled by the typically potent Red Bulls attack, yet the side eventually succumbed to the pressure of their attacking mistakes, falling behind with just 5 minutes to play.

However, an injury-time counter attack by the Ohio side eventually culminated in a sloppy tap-in, which saw the crew escape The Big Apple with an important point. The result did see Columbus drop off top-spot, yet remain just a point away from regaining their crown in the East.

Aussies at Home

The recent Socceroos squad has seen ten domestic inclusions, demonstrating once again the importance of the competition within our own backyard.

The feature match of the A-League Men's round was the Melbourne Derby, which featured 5 selected national team players from both sides, as Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City fought out a tense 1-1 draw at AAMI Park. Amongst those in action for the light blue side of the city were Socceroos frontmen Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio, who along with St Pauli-bound midfielder Connor Metcalfe, started the derby and played a key role on Saturday night.

On the other side of Melbourne, it was a case of new kids on the block, with Victory forwards Nick D'Agostino and Ben Folami getting their just reward for an outstanding campaign, with both earning their first senior international call-up. The latter was amongst the goals too, setting up teammate Marco Rojas for the games' opener just 17 minutes into play.

In the West, striker Bruno Fornaroli gained much fanfare around Perth after his selection for the Socceroos upcoming qualifiers, with the people in purple flocking to watch the star play against Brisbane Roar. Unfortunately for Bruno and the Glory, the match was not the dream send-off they were hoping for, with the home side falling to a 4-1 loss.

Defender Kye Rowles has been one of the stories of the competition over the past few seasons, with the Central Coast Mariners defender once again selected to wear the green and gold. The centre-half pulled off another vintage display as the Mariners defeated fellow NSW side Macarthur FC 4-2, to help push the Coasties closer to finals football.

Elsewhere, Sydney FC duo Andrew Redmayne and Rhyan Grant were impressive as the Sky Blues ran out convincing 3-0 winners against the league's top side Western United. Both claimed a clean sheet while Grant set up Serbian maestro Milos Ninkovic with a spectacular volley to open the scoring at Kogarah.