Arnold tips ‘Wizard of Oz’ Rogic to be among Asian Cup’s best
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has predicted a big Asian Cup for Tom Rogic, tipping he will emerge as one of the top players at the tournament.
Rogic has often flattered to deceive at international level. An undoubted star in the Scottish Premiership for Celtic, he is yet to truly find his feet in the gold jersey – although he has still been a solid enough contributor over the last six years for Australia.
But with the team's other main creative midfield outlet in Aaron Mooy injured, the time is ripe for Rogic to take the next step for the Socceroos – and Arnold is confident he will.
In fact, he can barely contain his excitement about Rogic. When the 26-year-old finished a neat passage of play at a sharp training session on Thursday with an emphatic blast at goal, Arnold bellowed: "F***ing Wizard of Oz!"
Arnold said his tactical plan for the Socceroos would play to Rogic's strengths. "I expect Tommy to be nearly player of the series," he said. "He's in great shape. Make Tommy happy, make him smile, miracles will happen.
"Because he is a backyard footballer … he's an indoor footballer who's (become a) top footballer and he's doing great at Celtic. But when you give him freedom and confidence and belief, get him smiling and make him happy, he's going to be be great."
Arnold and Rogic go way back, with the coach having handed the prodigious left-footer from Canberra his professional debut at the Central Coast Mariners back in 2012. "When I had him he was growing into his body. He was this tall skinny guy and a little bit uncoordinated," he said.
"But he's a beast now, he's a big boy. You look at the size of him and how quick his feet are, and his skill factor is incredible. He's a joy to coach."
Rogic is carrying a knee injury, which swelled up on his flight from Scotland to the UAE. Arnold, however, believes the climate in the Middle East will actually soothe it over the next few weeks. "I think the warmer weather will help him recover as well," he said. "You play in Scotland in the freezing cold, the joints seize up a little bit.
"Tommy's a player who just plays what he feels. He's unpredictable. There's not many talents that have come through Australia with that type of technique and skill as Tommy."
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.