Whilst Adelaide United look like they're going to remain cellar dwellers this season, one shaft of light in the darkness is their midfielder Awer Mabil.
I don't know if Ange Postecoglou has had a lot of time to look at him since becoming Socceroos coach, but Mabil who has already played for the Young Socceroos must surely be putting his hand up for Brazil already. I think that Awer Mabil should be a shoe in for the Australian 7 kit.
I'd like to suggest that at Adelaide, Josep Gombau can not teach Mabil anything. I'd also like to suggest that the Young Socceroos coach, Paul Okon can not teach Mabil anything either. The reason for this is not because I doubt Awer Mabil's ability but quite the opposite - his touch on the ball is simply sublime; such a thing can not be taught; that sort of thing is pure talent and I just don't think that either Gombau or Okon can help him because he's already better than them.
At 18, Mabil is already a formidable player and is able to do things with the ball that senior players with far more experience can not even hope to do. Against the Brisbane Roar on Friday night, we again saw this kind of brilliance when he turned Matt Smith with a back heel to himself and ran around him (if I can find footage I'll post this - it's scary strange). He can cross the ball inwards from places which few others are even able to; he runs for more than 90 minutes and he's already got a deft awareness to know where other players are on the park, to make even difficult passes look effortless.
He runs into spaces before they've opened, turns defences, is able to send the ball through postage stamp sized holes and still makes an effort even when the rest of the side has dropped their heads. I've seen more joy and heart from Mabil than I have from a lot of players, and that's the sort of player I want in a gold-and-green shirt.
At the World Cup in 2014, Australia face a horror draw. Playing Chile and then the Netherlands and Spain, if in the incredibly unlikely event that Australia should escape the group, they'd then most likely face Brazil. Realistically to even put up a performace which is even compotent against these sides, is going to take a squad who is up to that sort of level. To be honest, whilst I don't think that Awer Mabil is quite up to the ability of playing at Real Madrid or Barcelona, he'd easily slot into somewhere into the top half of the English Premier League or the Bundesliga.
If I was Grand Poobah and Lord High Everything Else, then I'd quietly suggest to Mr Postecoglou that the best four across the middle are probably Tommy Oar, James Holland, Tom Rogić and Awer Mabil. I'm not even sure that putting in a "good showing" is what Australia's aim should following the mission impossible they've been handed. If I had my way, I'd be using the 2014 campaign as preparation to mount a tilt at 2018 and a 22 year old Awer Mabil in four years' time could very well be a world beater.
Play him Postecoglou.