Adam Taggart has been in sparkling form leading the attack for his Korean club Suwon Bluewings and should be given the chance to do the same for the Socceroos.
It is one of the old sayings of Asian football: “if you can score goals in the K-League then you can score goals anywhere in Asia.”
Adam Taggart is showing that he can certainly do the former and for the sake of Australian football fans, he deserves the chance to show that the latter is true on the road to the 2022 World Cup.
‘Gung-ho’ is not an adjective commonly associated with Asia’s oldest professional league. There are always exceptions however and there are histories and nuances to the Korean game that are little-known to those outside its borders. It is hard to overstate what a huge cultural leap it is to go from playing in Brisbane to playing in the city just a 30 minute drive south of Seoul.
For one thing, local Korean coaches tend to be reactive: favouring organisation, physicality and good old fashioned hard work rather than the more creative aspects of the beautiful game. Not only that but defenders tend to be quick, tough and able to run all day.
Goals can be hard to come by but that has not been a problem for the former Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar striker who has managed 16 in 23 league games. This is a full six more than the next best and a raft of the usual Brazilian suspects.
This is also in a Suwon team that is a pale shadow of the one from the last decade when it won two Asian titles. In those heady days, a visit to the city famous for its barbecues produced a football atmosphere that was just as smoking, by far the best in Korea and one of the best in the whole of the continent. These days Suwon are in the bottom half of the table and the atmosphere is not what is was and the team are coming to depend on their striker.
Australia boss Graham Arnold is obviously delighted with the goalscoring form of the 26 year-old and it is surely time to give Taggart the responsibility of getting the goals on the road to Qatar.
"Every time we've played an Asian opposition we've created a lot of chances and not scored,” said the coach earlier this month. “Obviously playing against packed defences that defend really deep, coming up with some great combination play and having players with the 1 v 1 action who can change a game is important.”
Taggart is that man. In the A-League, his goal return was excellent but he could be guilty of missing quite a few chances too. This season he has been showing a new level of composure in front of goal in the Land of the Morning Calm.
This new, improved Taggart is scoring goals against some of the best defences in Asia.
At the moment, he is one of the hottest strikers in Asia . In fact, he could well be the number one number nine In China and Japan, where the charts are dominated by imported talent.
The leagues in West Asia are just about to get going for the new season which all means that the likes of Almoez Ali --the top scorer and star player of Qatar’s amazing win at the Asian Cup in January -- have yet to get into their stride at all. The same is the case in South Asia.
Many of Southeast Asia’s leagues also order their goals from elsewhere though Hoang Vu Samson is leading the table in Vietnam. The 30 year-old is a naturalised striker however and born in Nigeria.
So as it stands, Adam Taggart is the most in-form striker from Asia playing in an Asian league. Just how valuable that is to the Socceroos should become apparent in the coming months.
Graham Arnold should give him a real run in the team. There are a lot of defenders in South Korea who would agree.