Central Coast Mariners rising star Alou Kuol hopes his rapid start to life in the A-League will be the springboard to long-term success on the pitch.
Kuol has caught the eye at the Mariners this season, bagging three goals in just five appearances. The 19-year-old has proven a handful for opposition A-League defences and launched 12 shots, equal third-most in the competition.
Born in Khartoum in Sudan, the striker arrived in Australia with his family as a child. He grew up in Victoria, playing for Shepparton Soccer Club and impressing at the Goulburn Valley Suns, before joining Central Coast in 2019.
Kuol has ambitions of plying his trade in Europe one day, and making it on the international stage, but knows he has plenty of development in the A-League left to come first.
“Long-term, obviously everyone wants to go overseas so hopefully I can eventually do that one day,” Kuol told The World Game.
“But I don’t really look at that, in the meantime I just want to work hard and really knuckle down this season, get more minutes and do more for the team and develop. I just want to develop more.
“I’d like to go overseas [in the future] but I’m not quite sure where yet, England, Spain, anywhere, a top tier division, anywhere in Europe.
“Potentially [playing for the Socceroos], I’m not quite sure. South Sudan’s also an option, I’d be happy to represent either country. I’m looking forward to any national team call-up if it comes, it would be a great experience for me.”
The forward, who supported Arsenal as a kid, has not modelled his own skills on any past or current footballer.
“I never really looked up to anybody in particular,” he admitted.
“I just tried to pick up a bit of game from everywhere. I just work hard and suss out what I can do for the team really. I try and be a handful, I try and bring a lot of energy to the team.”
Last month the Mariners added another Kuol to their ranks, signing up Alou’s younger brother Garang to the academy.
“He’s coming down on Friday,” Alou said.
“He’s going to be a good addition to the youth team and I think he’ll do very well. Hopefully he’ll join me in the first-team in a year or two, however long it takes.”
The Mariners are currently sitting in second spot on the ladder after three wins from their opening five matches, including an upset of defending champions Sydney FC.
It’s rarefied air for a club that has picked up four wooden spoons in the past five years.
Kuol is keen for the Mariners to build on their positive opening to the A-League campaign and book a place in Asia.
“The target for us is the Asian Champions League,” he said.
“If we can qualify for that then we’ll be in the semis automatically. But if we can get a top two spot, or top three, and qualify for the Asian Champions League, then that would be great.
“The last few years have been rough for the club and for all of the fans and for the players. But we’re really working hard, proving everyone wrong and causing upsets.
“So we’ve got to keep being the underdogs and get results, we want to be in the top half of the ladder this season. There’s a lot of good vibes around the area, the Coast hasn’t been happier in a few years so it’s looking good.”
The striker scored the equaliser against Wellington on Sunday but the Mariners conceded late and went down 2-1. They face Melbourne City on Wednesday.
“The first 10 minutes we started off slowly, but we picked it up in the second half,” he said.
“We were very unfortunate not to get a result. But now we’re focusing on Melbourne City. The season so far has been pretty good.
“I’ve been working hard, I’m just happy I’m getting minutes. I’ve been getting on the scoresheet a few times so I can’t complain. I’ve got to keep it up, I can’t drop off now.
“Thanks go to the coach for putting his trust in me really. Nick Montgomery and ‘Staj’ have been really good coaches, they’ve really trained me well, drilled a few things into me and helped me hone my skills.
“Stepping up to the A-League and things have gotten better and, hopefully, I can continue that.”