Simon Hill's AFC Asian Cup preview: Nabbout can shine for Socceroos

Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill has backed fit-again forward Andrew Nabbout to play a prominent role in the Socceroos' AFC Asian Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates.

Nabbout, 26, is back in the international fold after overcoming the shoulder injury that cut short his involvement at the FIFA World Cup.

The Urawa Red Diamonds man turned an excellent couple of campaigns with Newcastle Jets into a surprise starting berth in Russia and he's now well-placed to lead the line at another major international tournament.

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Hill, who will be calling matches alongside former Socceroo Sasa Ognenovski in the United Arab Emirates, named Nabbout and winger Awer Mabil as ones to watch.

"There are a few names I'm excited to see and to see how they go at this tournament level," Hill told

"Andrew Nabbout, who broke onto the scene a year or so back and played at the World Cup, this is potentially his stage.

"Australia is crying out for a goalscorer, we all know that. Nabbout is perfectly capable of scoring goals, why can't this be his tournament?

"But I think there are others like Awer Mabil I'm also excited to see.

"He's in great form at the moment with his club side in Denmark. It's up to him to come to this tournament as a young player and to really try to grab it by the scruff of its neck.

"He's got the ability to be able to do that."

Surprises in store from unexpected sources

Australia's first task is to advance from Group B that includes Jordan, FIFA World Cup qualification foes Syria and Palestine, who are appearing at the AFC Asian Cup for the second time in their history.

The number of competing nations has expanded from 16 to 24 teams and Hill expects the likes of newcomers Yemen and the Philippines to pose problems.

"It's a bigger tournament so we're going to get to see some of the so-called minnow teams," he said.

"They do cause surprises, as we saw at the Euros with Iceland and Wales reaching the semi-final.

"There might be one or two similar stories here at the Asian Cup.

"There are nations that either haven't appeared for a long time or are making their debut that people won't know a lot about but are perfectly capable of springing surprises.

"It's a compact version of the World Cup and that's what makes it so enjoyable for fans and media alike."