“Every time he touches the ball, something happens,”. This was something that was said for an 18-year-old who had yet to make his debut at club level. At 18 years and 10 days, Garang Kuol is the youngest player to debut for Australia since Harry Kewell in 1996.
Kuol scored his first A-League goal on his competition debut against Wellington Phoenix on April 5th 2022 – firing just five minutes after coming onto the pitch. To say it had been a promising start for the youngster is an understatement and his emergence had coincided with the Mariners claiming four straight wins to wrap up a place in the finals.
Newcastle United have signed teenage star Garang Kuol from Central Coast Mariners, according to reports in Australia, and here’s all you need to know about him.
Garang Kuol almost scoring the goal of his life (thus far) for the A-League All-Stars against Barcelona in their post-season friendly.pic.twitter.com/QyfSPUGv1M
— Scouted Football (@scoutedftbl) May 25, 2022
Who is Garang Kuol?
Born in Egypt to Sudanese parents before migrating to Australia as a refugee, Garang Kuol is a mercurial attacking talent who has made his mark on Australia’s domestic competition in a mere matter of months.
Like his older brother Alou who recently earned a move to VfB Stuttgart, Garang was given an opportunity by the Central Coast Mariners who have also produced Australian internationals Mat Ryan, Tom Rogic and Trent Sainsbury in the last decade.
Kuol played junior football for Goulburn Valley Suns in Victoria before following his older brother to the Mariners. After impressing in their academy side, Kuol got his first taste of first-team football in December 2021 in an Australia Cup clash against APIA Leichhardt. Unsurprisingly, the teenager scored on debut in a 6-0 thrashing and hasn’t missed a beat since being given his chance in the A-League Men.
With the limelight well and truly on the teenager, the Mariners have used Kuol mainly as a substitute, where he boasts the incredible record of four goals in 189 minutes. Egyptian-born Kuol was awarded a two-year professional contract in June 2022, however that has failed to put off admiring clubs across the globe.
In the little game time of senior football the teenager has played, Kuol’s first touch has looked sound, but at times his dribbling can be erratic and his second or third touch can evade him and cause him to lose possession. This means that, to an untrained eye, Kuol can seem quite uncomposed on the ball as he constantly looks to surge towards goal.
This is an area that Kuol will have to improve before transitioning into the European footballing systems where clubs place a strong emphasis on keeping the ball and not being wasteful in possession. However, at his tender age, this should not prove to be too problematic as it merely involves him adapting and evolving his skillset to succeed in a different context.
Garang Kuol stats
With five goal contributions to his name in just 243 professional minutes at then age of 17, the excitement surrounding the explosive winger quickly became palpable. Simply put, no other then 17-year-old has ever made such an instant impact in Australia’s top tier.
It makes little sense to draw conclusions from Kuol’s data due to the small sample size of professional minutes, but the 18-year-old averages 9.1 dribbles per 90 at a success rate of 61.1%. By definition, this is off the charts, particularly for somebody so young.
17-year-old Garang Kuol scores his first @CCMariners goal! 👏
— Australia Cup (@AustraliaCup) December 21, 2021
Garang Kuol’s potential and style of play
Having recently made his debut for the Australian national team at just 18 years of age, Kuol’s talents are underscored by him featuring in a list compiled by CIES Football Observatory, who named him among the top 250 best talents in world football born after the year 2000.
Fearless and confident, Kuol is a versatile forward player who plays with a certain swagger and possesses an X-factor that has excited almost all fans of Australian football. Kuol’s seamless transition from youth to professional football has been remarkable.
Kuol’s playing style is characterised by his extreme confidence on the ball and capacity to drive forward in possession with little worry about the defence standing in his way. While this is not uncommon for players of his age who are typically less risk-averse on the pitch than those with more experience, Kuol takes this idea to the next level.
Almost every time he receives the ball out wide, he wastes zero time in positioning his body towards the nearest defender and carrying the ball forward with pure speed. In some respects, his image on the pitch almost directly correlates to his persona away from football where he emanates fun, nonchalance and swagger.
By putting defenders under immediate pressure, he is quite difficult to mark in 1 vs 1 situations because of his speed and ability to change direction without having to break stride or stop dribbling. This explosiveness and ability to run at pace is arguably Kuol’s greatest strength.
Another strength of Kuol is his finishing ability. He has demonstrated that he is capable of scoring from a variety of angles and all four of his goals are different kinds of finishes.
Garang Kuol Newcastle transfer news
Although Kuol has only played just 189 minutes in the A-League, he has caught the eye of multiple European suitors including the Saudi-backed Newcastle United who are expected to trigger a release clause in the 18-year-old’s contract with the Central Coast Mariners. These reports assert that he will be immediately loaned out to a Portuguese club as soon as the deal is codified. In fact, a further update states that Kuol is already travelling to England to complete a medical and move to Newcastle United.
At such a young age, it is difficult to predict Kuol’s future prospects. However, it remains clear that if the youngster impresses for the Socceroos at the World Cup, then Newcastle United could be counting their lucky stars that they discovered him before the rest of the world took notice.