Australian teenage sensation Garang Kuol has attracted attention from the biggest clubs in world football after starring against Barcelona.
They came to see the superstars of Barcelona and were left gobsmacked by the teenager from the Central Coast.
In front of a post pandemic record crowd in Sydney of 70,000 – with global icons like Sergio Busquets, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Frenkie De Jong on the pitch – 17-year-old Garang Kuol was the name on everyone’s lips by the time the final whistle went.
The Mariners’ teenage sensation, who is yet to start an A-League game but has already racked up four goals across nine substitute appearances, made another astounding cameo off the bench, this time for the A-League All-Stars and against some of the world’s very best.
On 66 minutes he likely had the Barcelona head honchos scrambling for details on the pacy striker as he danced through their litany of defensive stars from inside his own half only to put his finish narrowly wide.
“I can be there one day, that’s the main thing,” Kuol said post match about his learnings from the evening.
“This is my dream from when I was younger,” he continued.
But he has now caught the attention of the biggest footballing name of all inside the stadium, Barcelona legend and current manager Xavi who couldn’t believe a player that young was tormenting his defence.
“He did really well, he created many chances, he almost scored. Sixteen years old, maybe he’s a big liar, not 16, that’s unbelievable. All the best for him and all of the players from Australia,” the World Cup winner said.
While Barcelona stopped short of hauling him onto their plane trip back to Spain, he’ll no doubt be on their radar from now on.
All-star coach and Premier League great, Dwight Yorke, said Kuol’s talent was clear when he took the All Stars group through two days of limited preparation.
“I didn’t know too much about him, and he certainly did surprise Barcelona. He should have gotten two goals,” Yorke said.
“Even when we conceded the equaliser it was a stonewall foul on him as well. Overall, fantastic – I’m pleased that the public get to see him because he’s one for the future.”
But in a massive boost for the A-League and the Central Coast Mariners, Kuol is guaranteed to start next season in Australia as he’ll still be under 18 years of age by the time the next transfer window ends.
The challenge will then be to impact games from the start like he has done off the bench in this campaign.
His agent John Grimaud says the precocious talent is already on the radar of clubs abroad and he has the ability to make it to the very top.
“He has the potential to play for a European Champions League club,” he said.
“Potential is a massive word though but the ceiling on him is very high,” he continued.
Originally from Sudan, the Kuol family, including seven children, settled in Shepparton, in northern Victoria, when they moved to Australia and it was only a couple of years ago that Garang was playing junior football for the Goulburn Valley Suns in NPL Victoria.
Garang’s brother and fellow striker Alou has already made the move over to Europe after his own impactful start to professional football at the Central Coast Mariners, now contracted to Stuttgart of the German Bundesliga.
His elder brother has long been telling anyone who would listen that his younger sibling is the better footballer and plenty are now starting to take notice.