Graham Arnold opens up on Rukavytsya's Socceroos chances
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has warmed to suggestions that Nikita Rukavytsya could be involved in the national team set up once again when they return to FIFA World Cup qualifying action next month.
Rukavytsya’s form for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa has seen him win plenty of plaudits with 38 goals scored from his last 53 matches.
The 33-year-old’s standout displays have caught the attention of Arnold who has opened up the door for a possible recall for the striker who has not featured in the green and gold since November 2017.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Arnold expressed his interest in bringing back the in-form striker to the Socceroos’ camp.
“With COVID, there’s no guarantees with anything. But in a football sense, you look at how well he’s doing, and he’s on that list to be looked at,” said Arnold.
“A kid that’s doing fantastic, got fourth in player of the year in Asia (fan vote) – we’re crazy not to look. I watch his games every week and he’s got a coach and a style that is fitting and suiting him exceptionally well.
Arnold proceeded to praise Rukavytsya’s development, “The reason why he’s gone to this other level is like anything – he’s at that age of maturity and experience. Now when he gets half a chance in front of goal, he’s calm, he’s relaxed and he just finishes it. When you’re a bit younger you have a rush of blood or you’re a bit more excited.
“He’s 33 years of age but he hasn’t lost one bit of his speed. If anything his touch has got much better, [as has] his awareness of his runs in the box.”
Rukavytsya could be back with the Socceroos as soon as March with the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers set to restart.
Australia's remaining second round fixtures in 2021 are currently as follows:
- Australia vs Kuwait (location TBC): Thursday 25th March
- Nepal vs Australia (Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal): Tuesday 30th March
- Australia vs Chinese Taipei (location TBC): Monday 7th June
- Australia vs Jordan (location TBC): Tuesday 15th June
In 2021, matches in round three of AFC qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ are currently due to be held on Thursday 2nd September, Tuesday 7th September, Thursday 7th October, Tuesday 12thOctober, Thursday 11th November, and Tuesday 16th November.