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A-League: Garang Kuol ready for F3 derby

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Still “buzzing” after his World Cup experience, teenage sensation Garang Kuol intends to farewell the A-League in style before linking with English Premier League club Newcastle next month.

Kuol, 18, appeared in two of the Socceroos’ four World Cup matches in Qatar, becoming the youngest player to feature in a knockout match – Australia’s 2-1 round-of-16 loss to Argentina – at the tournament since a 17-year-old Pele in 1958.

“If you told me six months ago that I was going to play against (Lionel) Messi in the World Cup, I’d have thought you were crazy,” Kuol said.

“It’s crazy where football takes you. I just thank God that opportunities keep opening up for me.”

The next “opportunity” is his impending move to the Premier League.

However, before Kuol leaves, he wants to help ensure his Central Coast Mariners side is in a strong A-League position.

“I missed the boys a lot. The culture here at the Mariners is really good,” he said ahead of Sunday’s F3 derby against Newcastle in Gosford.

“The boys are pumped. We’re always confident, always pumped, always raring to go (and) always looking for a win.

“That’s why we bamboozle teams a lot … I’m buzzing.”

As is Kuol’s Socceroos and Mariners teammate Jason Cummings.

“It was unbelievable,” Scotland-born Cummings said of his World Cup experience.

“It’s something that I’ll always remember, something that I’ll tell my kids and my grandkids – it’s just a dream come true.

“I’m really proud to have been a part of an Australian team that did so well, getting out of the group stage and doing so well against Argentina.

“We gave it a good go. It’s a team that no-one really expected to do well … everyone wrote us off.

“We’ve proven that we have got a good team and we have got good players.

“I loved my time away (but) I’m happy to be back because I love playing here for the Mariners and I love living in Australia.

“To come back, it feels like home.”

The Mariners’ other player in Australia’s World Cup squad was veteran goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who was happy to play a supporting role with fellow back-up gloveman Andrew Redmayne to first-choice Socceroos custodian and captain Mat Ryan.

“One of the most enjoyable aspects for me was the goalkeeping sessions with (goalkeeper coach) John Crawley and the two other goalkeepers,” said Vukovic, who was a shock World Cup selection ahead of Mitch Langerak.

“We were there supporting Maty. We knew he was going to play barring something extreme happening.

“We supported him well. we worked hard when we had to and had fun when we could as well.”

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