Teenage sensation Nestory Irankunda was set to defy overseas offers and remain in the A-League

The A-League Men competition continues to deliver a steady stream of young, talented and Socceroo-bound players.

Noah Botic has started scoring successfully at Western United, Jordan Bos’ career is likely to become representatives in the near future and the Under-20 side so unluckily eliminated from the Asian Cup on Saturday night was made up of a multitude of young men biting your teeth in the domestic league.

When this pool of players is added to the youngsters who have recently been given opportunities abroad, names like Lachlan Brook, Lewis Miller and Tass Mourdoukoutas, the future looks bright for the Socceroos.

Along with an impressive roster of young Aussies that already includes Kye Rowles, Keanu Baccus, Nathaniel Atkinson, Garang Kuol, Joel King and Cameron Devlin, coach Graham Arnold will have plenty of talent to work with in the next phase of the World Cup can qualification.

Naturally, given the team’s passionate desire to progress under Arnold and have another successful tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, there were high expectations for certain players.

Kuol’s move to Newcastle United was huge but perhaps required patience from the naïve few who expected the young Australian to be thrust into the Premier League immediately.

It was a similar unfair expectation to that placed on the shoulders of Daniel Arzani, who left Australia as a teenager in 2018 before injury and limited opportunities eventually saw him return to the A-League to settle down and to start over.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Arzani just turned 24.

Daniel Arzani during his time at Melbourne City

Daniel Arzani during his time at Melbourne City. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Well, the teenager making headline after headline is Nestory Irankunda, the Tanzanian-born Adelaide United player who coach Carl Veart uses most effectively from the bench.

Irankunda was back on Saturday night, scoring in the 65th minute to thwart the Reds’ win over the Jets.

He already has seven A-League goals to his credit after just 26 games and at the current rate it would be close to 40 by the time he hits his 20s.

That’s a terrifying thought for opposing teams, especially considering a number like that would put Irankunda anywhere near the top 20 all-time scorers in the A-League before he’d even entered his third decade!

Physically, Irankunda is more mature and capable than the average A-League teenager. His explosive power from the start, his speed across the surface, and his ability to balance while running while also developing considerable strength are simply not gifts bestowed on the average professional footballer.

His threshold is unknown and another two seasons under his feet with wise advice from the likes of Socceroo Craig Goodwin in Adelaide could well be the best preparation for what is hoped to be a long and profitable international career.

However, the local game is best to enjoy his presence while it lasts as the chances of the 17-year-old being in Australia playing football at 20 are slim.

People will have observed and noticed his extraordinary gifts. It doesn’t take long for a club to notice their extended minutes, maybe even a spot or two, and feel the time is right to bet on what is sure to be precocious and superstar talent.

Joe Gauci and Nestory Irankunda celebrate an A-League Men win for Adelaide United

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, this could be the route to a short-term disappointment that so many players have experienced before. The A-League remains where many of the brightest young players show their potential before returning a few years later to rebuild careers that have lost direction.

In between lies the frustration of training hard in a foreign country, often with limited opportunities. What follows for many Aussies is a meandering loan-to-loan career as the parent club seeks to ensure a decent return on their investment, even if the athlete never really represents the club they originally signed for.

In all honesty, the pattern ruined the early lives of many young professionals and some would have been far better developed than if they had stayed a star in the domestic league in Australia.

Experience abroad is required to add the touch of class Graham Arnold needs, but leaving the country early to pursue riches and opportunity is fraught with peril and Irankunda looks likely to be the next player forced to make a significant one Making a career decision, possibly before he’s able to understand the pitfalls.

It would be best if he remained an A-League player for at least the next two seasons, but that seems unlikely as every goal only adds to his already formidable reputation.

https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/03/14/teenage-sensation-nestory-irankunda-should-resist-overseas-overtures-and-remain-in-the-a-league-for-now/ Teenage sensation Nestory Irankunda was set to defy overseas offers and remain in the A-League


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