Bruno Fornaroli has anointed Kusini Yengi as the Socceroos’ long-term centre-forward, but the veteran Melbourne Victory striker still wants to play a part in Australia’s two World Cup qualifiers against Lebanon next month.
Fornaroli and Yengi were behind 33-year-old Mitch Duke in the pecking order of the Socceroos’ central attacking options at the Asian Cup, which ended for Australia with a 2-1 weekend quarter-final loss to South Korea.
None of the three scored at the tournament, but Fornaroli, 36, saw more than enough in 25-year-old Yengi – who plays for English third-tier club Portsmouth – to believe he’s the Socceroos’ future “No.9”.
“When the tournament finished I said to ‘Kus’ to ‘keep going’ and that he would be the No.9 of the national team in the future,” Fornaroli said.
“He has the power, he’s a smart guy, he works so hard, he listens to everyone, he’s always trying to learn and he’s very important for the future.”
Not that the evergreen Fornaroli has given up hope of keeping his spot in Australia’s squad for matches against Lebanon in Sydney (March 21) and at a yet-to-be determined venue five days later.
“Of course I will be happy if I am in the squad again,” he said.
“It’s very important for us and I’ll try to do my best there (if selected) and I will keep trying to do the best for my club, but that was the only way I got to the Asian Cup squad, and it will be the only way I get in the (national) squad again.”
Before leaving for the Asian Cup, Fornaroli had scored 13 goals in 10 A-League matches this season.
In the five games the Victory played while he was away, the Melbourne club drew four and lacked a killer instinct in attack.
However, Fornaroli was adamant that his club didn’t miss him.
“We played some great football, but we couldn’t kill some games,” he said.
“The football is there. We have good players, a good squad and they didn’t miss me.
“The team did a great job and now I’m back to try to help them. I’m very happy and proud of teammates for what they did. I can’t wait to start again for the Victory.”
The third-placed Victory host Macarthur FC at AAMI Park on Saturday before meeting arch rivals Melbourne City, one of two of Fornaroli’s former A-League clubs, the following weekend at the same venue.
Fornaroli’s return isn’t the only boost the Victory will receive, with former Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix midfielder Roly Bonevacia set to join the club.
The Netherlands-born 32-year-old Curacao international made 125 A-League appearances from 2014 to 2019 before stints in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
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