Opinion

Is Boyle the forward Socceroos have sought for a decade?

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On a night Australia paid a final tribute to its greatest ever Socceroo, the football community may have witnessed the emergence of an unlikely hero who could give the national team’s attack the zip it has yearned for a decade.

Tim Cahill bid an emotional farewell to the green and gold after Australia’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Lebanon in Sydney.

Memories of Cahill’s extraordinary feats in far-flung places around the world came flooding back as he said a teary goodbye to the game he has enriched in the city that launched his stellar career.

But as Cahill bowed out of the international scene in a blaze of glory, a Scottish-born forward - who has pledged his allegiance to Australia - showed that he could well be the man to solve the Socceroos' age-old problem of scoring goals.

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Cahill is not a real striker in the accepted sense of the word - I still believe he was far more effective when facing goal than with his back to it.

He was first used as an out-and-out striker by previous coach Pim Verbeek in 2009 when the scoring problem became acute however he did his best to fill the void and would score 50 goals in 108 appearances for his country.

Yet Boyle showed enough in two matches for the Socceroos that he has the mobility, skill on the ball, passing range, directness and finishing power to succeed where others have failed.

Boyle, 25, made his debut for the Socceroos when he came on as a substitute for Jamie Maclaren after 71 minutes of last week’s match against Korea Republic in Brisbane.

He left his mark on the occasion by providing an assist for Massimo Luongo’s last-gasp goal that gave Graham Arnold’s men a contentious but otherwise deserved 1-1 draw.

Boyle, who plays his club football in Scotland with Hibernian, was rewarded for his influential debut with a start in the match against Lebanon and he did not let Arnold or the team down.

Boyle produced a lively display that included two goals and another assist and was involved in most of Australia’s bright moments in the match. The gritty Lebanese did not quite know how to handle him.

Two goals and two assists in 109 minutes of football for a new team certainly augurs well for the future.

Boyle no doubt will be included in Arnold’s squad for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in January.

A front line of Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse and Boyle - with their penchant for effortlessly interchanging positions - would certainly cause havoc in the championship which of course is Australia’s defence of the title they won on home soil in 2015.

Boyle, significantly, could even be given Cahill’s number four jersey in the UAE and perhaps even beyond if all goes well for him and the team.

The 599th Socceroo is providing plenty of positive vibes.