South Melbourne’s Afghan ace targets Japan debut

South Melbourne’s Iqi Jawadi has no idea if he’ll make his international debut against Japan despite spending the past week in Germany with the Afghanistan national team.

The highly-rated 21-year-old midfielder is a refugee from war torn nation and is in sights of The Lions ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifier against the Blue Samurai in September.

Jawadi returned to Australia on Friday after four days at the camp where coach Slaven Skeledic ran the rule over him.

He returned as a substitute in Saturday’s league match with Pascoe Vale and will be part of the South line-up which takes on Palm Beach in the FFA Cup Round of 32 on Wednesday.

“I loved it,” Jawadi told FourFourTwo when asked about the camp.

“It was nice to link up with my fellow Afghanis and an honour to be selected for such a camp.

“They were pleased with me so far, but I will have to wait and see if I am selected by the team.”

Jawadi’s family fled Afghanistan when he was only four months old, moving to India before arriving in Australia as a seven-year-old.

He had never played football until he moved to Australia but said there was never any question about his national allegiance.

“This is my heritage and I am quite proud of where I have come from,” he said. “I am proud to be a part of it.”

Jawadi added that South Melbourne’s online TV packages had alerted the Afghani national team to his eligibility and was full of praise for coach Chris Taylor, who he said was like a “father figure” for him.

The midfielder previously trialed with Central Coast under Graham Arnold in 2012 and is hopeful of playing at a higher level.

“I would like to play to play professionally one day and make football my life, but we'll see what happens,” he said. “I am really happy right now.”

On his Mariners’ trial, he added: “Every experience is a good one whether it works out or not.

“It just makes me work harder to be a better player and someone who can help his team at all times.

“Regardless of A-League interest, this is what I’m all about anyway.”

The FFA Cup Round of 32 is an ideal shop front for Jawadi too and he’s confident he’ll be fully fit for Wednesday despite his recent long flights.

“I was okay on the weekend, and played a part in the match against Pascoe Vale off the bench,” he said.

“Otherwise I am buzzing like the rest of the boys and can't wait to play on the big stage.

“We are confident in every game we play, but we also know it is going be hard work.”

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