It’s been a hectic few weeks for Patrick Yazbek - called up for a maiden Socceroos camp against England and now a key cog for the Subway Olyroos in Saudi Arabia as part of coach Tony Vidmar’s master plan to qualify for next year’s Paris Games.
And all that off an eye-catching debut season in Norway’s Eliteserien for high flying European qualification chasing Viking FK.
The live-wire midfielder started in the 2-1 weekend win over Qatar in the Kingdom, and is likely to loom large again on Tuesday night (Wednesday 12am AEST) against the hosts at the Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium.
It’s clear that if Australia secure qualification for the Games at April’s AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Qatar, Yazbek, 21, will be a key figure.
After 24 appearances for his Scandinavian club, the Sydney FC product is revelling in his rapid rise.
“It’s been quite a crazy season for me in a positive way and to be called up for the Socceroos, as a train on, was an honour and something I had in mind when I came over to Norway,” he said.
“It’s obviously every young player’s goal, it brings you one step closer but I also still have a long way to go to achieve my dreams. To say the least I’m pleased with way everything is going at the moment.
“It was an eye opener to see what it takes to be with the Socceroos - it was an experience which motivates me to be in that squad again.
“I’ve had a glimpse of what it takes to be in there with the likes of Connor Metcalfe, Jackson Irvine and Keanu Baccus and I think I’m certainly capable of fighting for a position there.
“If you’d asked me 12 months ago where I’d be I think I’ve over achieved my expectations. But that doesn’t mean I’m not hungry for more - I’m not somebody who likes to settle for the norm.
“I’m internally frustrated I didn’t achieve certain things and that’s motivation for me to continue on this trajectory and next season replicate (and more) what I’ve managed this year.”
Another cherished goal is a Parisian adventure, with Yazbek adding: “Over the last two years or so it’s a dream of mine to be part of a group that qualifies for the Olympics.
“We have a great bunch of boys here and we’re building something that’s quite strong. I think we have a massive opportunity ahead of us if we do the right things.
“It’s not something you ever take for granted because the Olympics is a dream for almost every player in the world.
“I don’t want to look back down the track and have any regrets about not giving everything I have to try and make it happen.
“This is such a massive thing for the group and we’ll give it everything to qualify.
“I like to take a bit of a leadership role - but at the same time everyone in this group takes on responsibility.
“We have a culture where we’re a band of brothers.”
Yazbek played 60 minutes against Qatar after jetting in from freezing Norway to the heat of Khobar, and he sees a symmetry between the Olyroos and Socceroos.
“There’s a similar vibe between both and the way they do things and the way the teams are set up to play,” he explained.
“I think the Saudi game will be a good test for us because they’re a good side and if we want to get the gold in the Asian Cup next year we need to compete with the best.
“Even though it’s a friendly we want to go out there and send a message to the rest of Asia.”
Saudi Arabia U-23 v Australia U-23
Tuesday, 21 November 2023
Kick-off: 4pm local / 12am AEDT (Wednesday, 22 November)
Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia