How Kenyan-born Awer Mabil led Australia to the 2022 World Cup
Kenyan-born Awer Mabil just achieved possibly the greatest feat in his football career after scoring the winning goal that sent Australia to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
26-Year-old Mabil scored in a thrilling penalty shootout at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to edge out Peru 5-4.
Mabil was key to the success of the Socceroos on Monday June 13 after scoring Australia's sixth and final penalty.
In the moments that followed, any signs of nerves dissipated.
Cooly and casually, and off a short run, Mabil approached the ball and then dispatched it past Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who had dived the other way.
What sealed the deal was the remarkable moment Australian goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne who was substituted on for the shootout saved Peruvian Alex Valera's spot kick sending Australia to their 5th World Cup tournament.
Mabil’s journey to Monday’s historial moment suprsngly had deep long roots in Kenya.
The fast-paced winger was born to South Sudanese parents in Kenya’s Kakuma Camp after his parents fled conflict in Sudan, surviving on one meal a day as a child and kicking a ball around to pass the time.
It is at the camp where Mabil’s love for football began, carefuly spending hours as a child harnessing his athletic talents. Mabil also admitted that football acted as his solace away from the reality of the Kakuma refugee camp.
As an incubator for sporting and other talent Kakuma puts many more renowned institutions to shame. Among its alumni are Australian Football League player Aliir Aliir and model Adut Akech.
His family's refugee status was later on granted in 2006, before the Mabils moved to Adelaide, where he made a quick impression on local football scouts.
He then came through the South Australian National Training Centre, eventually playing for semi-professional side Campbelltown City and finally with Adelaide United in the A-League.
His sporting prowess stood out, and the preternaturally skilful Mabil made his A-League debut for Adelaide United at the age of 17.
Overseas breakthrough then came knocking when Mabil moved to Denmark's FC Midtjylland as a teenager. His prowess saw him signed up by La Liga side Cadiz and the winger is currently on loan to Turkish club Kasimpasa.
His call-up to the national senior side came in 2018. But, in another irony, he just missed that year's World Cup — his debut game was the Socceroos' first after the tournament. For Mabil leading Australia and proceeding on to the World Cup is truly a dream come