Australia's Awer Mabil heads into South Korea friendly in fine form
Awer Mabil scored a goal on his debut for the Socceroos against Kuwait last month and has been in sparkling form for Danish club FC Midtjylland since then.
Before linking up with the national team in Brisbane ahead of Saturday's friendly against South Korea, Mabil scored twice and set up another two goals in Midtjylland's 5-0 Superliga win over Vejle BK -- a display that earned Mabil a spot on the reserves in FIFA 19's team of the week.
"I didn't know that until Craig Goodwin told me in the elevator on the way to breakfast," Mabil said on Thursday.
"I have to look at that and screenshot it, save it so I can brag about it one day."
As good as times are now for the 23-year-old, it's the payoff for sticking with his European dream despite a rough start following his departure from Adelaide United in 2015.
By his own admission Mabil wasn't ready to play in Europe when he arrived in Denmark and he did think about returning to Australia.
Loan spells with Esbjerg and Portugal's Pacos Ferreira both ended in relegation but Mabil says those struggles are largely behind him now.
"I left here when I was 19, went over there and I was expecting to play straight away from my point of view," he said.
"I got a reality check that I wasn't ready for European football so I had to find my ways through the last two years ... when you go over there you have to know everything is not always going to fall your way, so you have to find a way to succeed."
Mabil's goal-scoring debut alongside childhood friend and fellow South Sudanese refugee Thomas Deng in the 4-0 win over Kuwait stole the headlines in Graham Arnold's first match at the helm of the Socceroos.
Now the winger is eyeing a first appearance on home soil for the national team and will have his younger sister Bor in the stands at Suncorp Stadium.
"I cannot wait for the fans to see the new era beginning now -- I'm excited for the fans and excited for the times ahead," Mabil said.
The arrival of Robbie Kruse means the full Socceroos squad will train for the first time on Thursday.
A final training run will be held on Friday at Suncorp Stadium before Saturday's clash with South Korea -- the first time the nations have met since Australia's 2-1 Asian Cup final win in 2015.