AFC Asian Cup

The inspirational message behind Mabil's goal celebration

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  • Awer Mabil has scored four goals in seven international apperances
  • He scored in Australia's crucial 3-2 win over Syria at the Asian Cup
  • The 23-year-old explains the meaning behind his goal celebration

Is there anything Awer Mabil can’t do?

Australia’s newly-minted wide attacker has been a revelation since bursting on to the international stage following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. He scored a crucial opening goal to help Australia to an action-packed 3-2 victory in a do-or-die contest against Syria, as the AFC Asian Cup champions avoided an unlikely group-stage exit.

With the Socceroos absorbing significant pressure from a desperate Syria, Mabil turned the game on its head five minutes before half-time with a goal that will rank among the best at this year’s Asian Cup. He cut inside and curled a perfect 20-metre left-foot strike into the far corner with laser-like precision.

Mabil, who scored just minutes into his Socceroos’ debut, now boasts four goals from a fledgling seven-match career.

This Kenya-born, Australia-raised former refugee of Sudanese extraction is keen to use his newly-enhanced profile in the most positive way possible. As reported after his scoring debut against Kuwait last October, Mabil helped set up ‘Barefoot to Boots’ in 2014, a project that is providing widespread aid to his former home - the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

His passion for helping doesn’t end there. The 23-year-old celebrated his goal against Syria – just as he did against Palestine four days earlier - with a curious celebration.

And the articulate Mabil was more than happy to reveal the meaning behind the gesture he developed in order to help raise awareness of a serious societal problem.

"It's good to tell this story. I always want to help people," said Mabil. "A lot of people suffer with mental health [issues].

“That celebration is to bring peace to the mind and, for people who are suffering from depression or whatever it might be, to represent them and let them know it's okay, they just need to talk to someone.

"You need to talk, you shouldn't cover your mouth. That's the story behind it.”

The win shored up second spot for the Socceroos behind Group B winners Jordan.

Australia will now face either Japan or Uzbekistan in the Round of 16, while Jordan will meet a yet-to-be-determined third-placed opponent in the 24-nation competition.

Palestine’s scoreless draw with Jordan means they ended in third and now await other results over the coming days. Remarkably, Palestine could progress as one the four best third-placed teams despite not finding the net during their three group outings.

Syria, who only narrowly fell short of Russia 2018 qualification, exit the tournament with just a point, despite strong showings in each of their matches.

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