Australia U-23 midfielder Mustafa Amini has rejected an audacious approach by Afghanistan to defect and join "The Lions of Khorasan" in their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Amini, the son of an Afghani refugee, was sounded out by the Asian nation’s new German-Bosnian coach Slaven Skeledzic after he turned up to watch him train with his German club Borussia Dortmund last month.
The 21-year-old is still eligible to switch to the land of his heritage because he has yet to be capped at senior level in an official FIFA tournament.
But Amini told The World Game he had not been tempted to turn his back on the country of his birth and is fully committed to helping the Olyroos qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and also breaking through with the Socceroos as they follow their qualification path to Russia.
“I have worked my way through the Australian Under-17s, Under-20s and now I am with the Olyroos, who I have captained a couple of times, and my heart is with Australia all the way,” Amini said.
“I want to part of the team which qualifies for the Rio in January and then go on to play for the Socceroos in Russia … that’s my dream.
“We have a really god bunch of boys with the Olyroos and hopefully we can make it to Rio – that would be a once in a life time thing.”
Amini is well known to football fans Afghanistan, a large portion of whom make up his 113,996 Facebook followers.
“Quite a few follow my progress at Dortmund (where he's a regular starter for the second team) on line and that’s good," he said.
"Occasionally some come to watch us train and it’s great to see that also.”
Skeledzic, who was appointed in February to spearhead the 144th ranked nation, has been criss-crossing Europe looking to unearth players with Afghan ancestry.
And he caught Amini unawares when he fronted up unannounced at Dortmund with his sales pitch.
“He’s well known in Germany and he came and told me all about his ideas and what he wants to achieve with the team and told me he wanted me to be a part of it," Amini said.
“I was really surprised. He explained how they train in Dubai, jet around with Emirates first class and are heavily backed by wealthy Afghanis based in the Middle East.
“They are in same qualifying group as Japan for the World Cup and they have a lot of ambition to lift the standards there and be really competitive in the future.
“He told me he wanted me to be one of his main players and of course it was flattering.
“He’s already recruited a couple of players playing at top level in Russia and there’s another young boy in the Bundesliga, who’s at Hoffenheim and he’s trying to recruit him.
“I wish him every success. But like, I said, my heart’s with Australia only."
Former Afghan head coach Yousuf Kargar was stabbed in Kabul last month, in a sign of the dangers that still lurk there.
The 'Lions of Khorasan' won the South Asian Football Championship in 2013 – a 2-0 triumph over India sending millions teaming on to the streets of Kabul in wild celebration.
Kargar was pivotal in rebuilding Afghanistan’s football program after the 2001 collapse of the hated Taliban regime, which had banned almost all sports and used the Kabul's Ghazi stadium for executions.
Amini’s father, Obaidullah, fled his war-ravaged home at the age of 19 and met his Nicaraguan mother Zahra, also a refugee, at a Sydney immigration centre. Amini was born and raised in the Sydney suburb of Wentworthville.
His future at Dortmund is open to conjecture with coach Jurgen Klopps’s impending exit - announced on Wednesday - only clouding the issue for Amini, who is out of contact in June and on the radar of clubs in Germany, Denmark and Belgium.
Yet to figure under Klopp for the first team, he said: “With Jurgen Klopp going you never know what will happen when the new coach comes in.
“It was a shock to hear the boss will leave but I suppose every good thing comes to an end. It’s the football life, I guess. Players come and go, coaches come and go.”