Opinion

Taggart's basic instincts tipped to sharpen Socceroos' attack

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Is Adam Taggart the man to solve Australia's perennial scoring problem as the Socceroos embark on a campaign to reach their fifth straight FIFA World Cup?

The Perth-born striker, who plays his club football for Suwon Bluewings in K League 1, is red-hot favourite to lead the attack when Graham Arnold's men meet Kuwait in Kuwait City on Wednesday morning (AEST) in the first match of their attempt to reach the promised land of Qatar in 2022.

Taggart has been picked on the strength of his blistering form in the Korea Republic, where he has been scoring goals for fun since leaving Brisbane Roar in February and is leading scorer in the competition.

But can he do it on a sweltering night in Kuwait and show that he is ready to own the mantle of Socceroos scorer-in-chief - something the legendary Tim Cahill wore with deadly effect?

If stepping into Cahill's lethal shoes is not enough pressure, I don't know what is.

Two former Taggart teammates in the A-League have no doubt about his ability to meet the expectations of those fans who are frustrated by the Socceroos' ineffective attack that may have cost them a point or two at the 2018 World Cup and a spot in the latter stages of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Rostyn Griffiths, who was Taggart's captain at Perth Glory in 2016-2017, says the striker is a natural.

"For me, 'Taggs' has all the tools in the locker to be Australia's go-to striker," Griffiths said.

"He always makes really good runs and has the ability to finish from multiple positions. Earlier in his career he's obviously had a few injury setbacks and people had a question mark over his temperament. But for me, when he's confident and fit, there's no stopping him.

"He's having a great season in Korea and that's mostly down to him being able to focus on football and relied upon as the main man for Suwon."

Brisbane Roar's Matt McKay, who played alongside Taggart for the best part of last season before he retired, believes the striker is a highly driven player who will score goals for Australia.

"He has scored goals wherever he has played, even in the difficult Korean league, so he can handle the pressure to score very well," McKay said.

"All he thinks about is goals. At Brisbane, there wasn't a training session where he didn't demand more or had a whinge if it didn't go his way. He wanted his teammates to be better because ultimately he knew if they were better he would get goals.

"In Korea if he gets service he will score and it's no different with the Socceroos. Give him confidence and believe in him and he will deliver."

Taggart is keen to take his international game to a new level after playing in only eight internationals, including two appearances as a substitute against the Netherlands and Spain at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

He has scored three times for the green and gold but his last was in an East Asia Cup match against China in 2013.

He scored those goals as a raw 20-year-old but six years down the track he is now a far more confident and accomplished predator who is determined to assume the responsibility of main scorer for Australia

Especially since fellow striker Jamie Maclaren, who is in Arnold's 23-man squad for Kuwait, has failed to take his prolific club form to the national team.

Taggart has said that he is relishing the prospect of playing under former striker Arnold because "it's great to share the same mentality of wanting to attack, put teams on the back foot and score goals" and that playing in a second World Cup would "mean the world" to him.

It would also mean the world to the Socceroos and supporters should he do so by providing the goals that have been in such short supply the last few years.