After a lengthy wait for the deal to be confirmed, Garang Kuol made his Hearts debut in their 1-0 win over St Mirren.
The Socceroos starlet, on loan at Tynecastle until the end of the season after joining Newcastle United earlier this month from Central Coast Mariners, was a second half sub as the Jambos strengthened their grip on third place in the Scottish Premiership. Kuol was introduced in the 77th minute as he and fellow sub Stephen Humphrys replaced goalscorer Barrie McKay and Josh Ginnelly.
And the Aussie should have marked his first outing in maroon with an assist. With St Mirren throwing bodies forward in search of a leveller. Kuol raced forward in a swift stoppage time counter from the hosts. After showing great pace, he had the awareness to roll a perfectly weighted pass to Humphrys, but the on-loan Wigan man fluffed his lines with only Trevor Carson to beat.
It was an encouraging cameo fro the 18-year-old. Introduced as the game became a bit spicy, he showed willingness to get stuck in despite his comparatively slight frame and helped his team out defensively with a few aerial challenges. Here’s how the media Down Under reacted to his bow in British football.
The West Australian
The Perth-based outlet marked Kuol’s first appearance, but said it was overshadowed by ex-Mariners teammate Kye Rowles’ ‘handball’ late on. A VAR check decided that the Aussie centre back shouldn’t concede a penalty after a cross bounced up and appeared to strike his arm as he attempted to pull it away behind his back.
They said: “The Australian youngster had few touches but excited fans when he set up Stephen Humphrys for what should have been a second goal in the 89th minute. However, Humphrys shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. The debut came just a day after former Central Coast Mariners star Kuol completed his loan move from English Premier League high fliers Newcastle United.
“Kuol was also one of three Australians to appear for Hearts, along with defender Kye Rowles and fellow sub Cammy Devlin. Rowles featured in a controversial moment, with St Mirren adamant they should have been awarded a late penalty when the ball struck him on the arm inside the penalty box.”
Another Aussie website led on Robbie Neilson’s quotes hailing Kuol as “top level,” while Zander Clark’s praise of Kye Rowles also made the cut. Kuol – a season-long loan signing from Premier League powerhouse Newcastle United – made his debut for third-placed Hearts in their 1-0 Scottish Premiership win over Keanu Baccus’ St Mirren.
Prised from Central Coast Mariners in the Isuzu UTE A-League earlier this month, the 18-year-old came off the bench with 13 minutes remaining and made a quick impression at Tynecastle.
“‘Garang is obviously just a young kid. We thought giving him 15-20 minutes and try to just build him up a bit,’ Neilson told Hearts TV. "While Kuol and Cam Devlin came off the bench at home to St Mirren, fellow Australian and Socceroo Kye Rowles completed the 90 minutes and he earned praise from goalkeeper Zander Clark.”
Freelance Australian journalist reckons the chance Kuol created for Humphrys to miss summed up exactly what the teenager’s game is all about. He tweeted: “I think that chance that Garang Kuol created off the bench for Hearts is a pretty good example of what he's all about.
“Such a polished and composed player who is dangerous every time he touches the ball in the final third. He always seems to make the right decision on the ball.”
Much closer to home, there is naturally interest in how Kuol fares on Tyneside. The 18-year-old only joined Newcastle at the start of January, and the Geordies will be keeping a close eye on how he does a couple of hours up the A1.
They noted his cameo against the Buddies and will no doubt be keeping abreast of his fortunes in maroon over the course of his loan stint.