'Keep pushing each other': Healthy strikeforce competition as Taggart ends 2270-day drought
Adam Taggart's two-goal haul not only kick-started the Caltex Socceroos big win against Chinese Taipei but ended a 2270-day drought for the striker.
That's how long it had been since he last scored for Australia before his first-half brace in the 7-1 FIFA World Cup 2022™ qualifying win on Tuesday night.
Taggart's last international goal came in a 4-3 loss to China on July 28, 2013 at the East Asian Cup.
But the 26-year-old has enjoyed a career renaissance of late, currently leading the goal-scoring charts in the K-League with Suwon Bluewings.
It's that form that has catapulted Taggart back into Graham Arnold's calculations as on the Caltex Socceroos' road to Qatar 2022.
Having watched from the bench as Australia swept aside Nepal 5-0 last Thursday, Taggart got a chance from the start against Chinese Taipei - and didn't disappoint.
Taggart started ahead of close mate Maclaren, who moved to the bench despite his hat-trick against the Nepalese and the former Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory frontman says it's an example of the incredible depth the Caltex Socceroos now have in the attacking third.
“Me and Macca [Maclaren] are good mates. We’ve grown up playing together in all the young Aussie teams and been in many camps together,” Taggart told to socceroos.com.au.
“I enjoy having him around and I’m sure we can both keep pushing each other to contribute to the team.
“That’s what you need in the national team, you need a lot of people contributing. You can’t just rely on one person.
“Hopefully we can both continue on and get a lot more wins for us.”
Four of Taggart’s five international goals for Australian have been scored against Chinese Taipei, following his previous brace against them in December 2012.
The 26-year-old’s opener was a brave stooping header from Rhyan Grant’s pinpoint cross, while he finished off a nice team move for his second inside 19 minutes.
“It’s just nice to get off the mark in this campaign and I couldn’t be happier to be back a part of the team and get another win with the boys,” Taggart added.
“It was a good team performance. They were very tough to break down, especially in the early stages.
“It was important we stayed disciplined, kept moving the ball and in the end we got our rewards. Scoring seven goals against any team is a good result.”
Taggart was not the only Caltex Socceroo to shine in the first-half at the Kaohsiung National Stadium.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine has been desperate to add more goals to his game for Australia and manage to do that with a quickfire double of his own.
The Hull City star got on the end of Grant’s knockdown to rifle the ball in for his first before getting on the end of Awer Mabil’s cross with a powerful header soon after.
“I’m very pleased. I thrive on crossed balls when I’m playing in that more advanced role,” Irvine said.
“[They were] two fantastic deliveries and I was fortunate to get on the end of them both.
“Both fullbacks put in some brilliant crosses once they got past their defensive line, when we got them in behind we looked a real threat.
“It’s not easy when teams play with a lot of men behind the ball and you have to find this slid passes when they are very narrow and deep. You have to be patient and not get frustrated and take the chances when they come.”