Bruce Kamau’s impressive fortnight underlines the local flavour to Adelaide United’s success, with the Reds’ squad full of exciting South Australian youngsters.
Adelaide United Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, started four South Australians under the age of 25 against Brisbane Roar on Saturday, with Kamau and Stefan Mauk playing key roles in the hosts’ first two goals in a 3-0 triumph.
That win extended the Reds’ unbeaten run to 13 games, while Adelaide (36 points) leapfrogged Brisbane (35) into second in the Hyundai A-League table.
Not bad for a team that failed to win in their opening eight fixtures.
In previous seasons, Adelaide have been criticised for not giving local talent enough opportunities but since Amor’s predecessor Josep Gombau came to South Australia, it has been club policy to prioritise natives.
It has led to the club luring the likes of Craig Goodwin, Dylan McGowan and Mauk back to their home state over the past couple of years.
While 24-year-old Goodwin stayed on the bench against Roar following his concussion last week, McGowan (24), Mauk (20), Kamau (20) and Jordan Elsey (21) all started, plus another South Australian Ben Warland (19) came off the bench.
With Victorian teenager George Mells anchoring Adelaide’s midfield in the absence of the injured Isaias, the Reds’ future looks more than rosy.
Kamau is grabbing all the headlines after two goals as many games but it was Mauk who was arguably the man of the match against Roar.
Mauk set up the opening two goals – with Kamau the beneficiary on the first – and the former Melbourne City midfielder was critical to Adelaide’s pressing at Coopers Stadium.
After joining Adelaide in January, Mauk has seamlessly settled into Amor’s midfield, with James Jeggo having departed for Sturm Graz in Austria.
The first goal came in the 38th minute with Mauk releasing Sergio Cirio into the box and the Spaniard expertly cut the ball back to Kamau, who produced a clinical first-time finish across Brisbane goalkeeper Michael Theo.
In the 50th minute, Mauk won the ball off Corona and then fed Kamau on the edge of the box.
The young winger cut inside and shot, with Bruce Djite converting the rebound from Theo’s initial save.
With Goodwin (4 goals, 2 assists) having been one of Adelaide’s best players this season, plus McGowan and Elsey impressing as a central defensive pairing, youth has been critical to the Reds’ turnaround.
For Brisbane, it is becoming increasingly clear that coach John Aloisi is not getting enough out of his imports this term.
In South Australia’s capital, Aloisi dropped marquee midfielder Thomas Broich after last week’s 6-3 loss at Perth Glory.
The German playmaker has been far from Roar’s worst player this season but having still yet to score in 2015-16, the 35-year-old seems to be waning.
Corona is Brisbane’s only foreign player who could genuinely hold his head high this season, with Broich perhaps earning a pass mark.
Javi Hervas, Jean Carlos Solorzano and Jerome Polenz – the latter two currently sidelined with injury – have barely made an impact, while naturalised Brazilian forward Henrique again struggled when asked to start against Adelaide.
Hervas, who put in a dreadful performance against Melbourne Victory in January, again gave away possession in the lead-up to an opposition goal on Saturday.
Djite pounced on the Spaniard’s back-pass in the 81st minute to force a save out of Theo and Pablo Sanchez scored.
After consecutive defeats against potential rivals for silverware, Aloisi’s men are definitely struggling.