17-year-old Irankunda set to become youngest Socceroo

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SYDNEY (AP) — Tanzanian-born Nestory Irankunda is in line to become the youngest-ever player to suit up for Australia’s national men’s soccer team.

Irankunda, who turned 17 on Feb. 9 and plays for Adelaide United in the domestic A-League, has been promoted to the Socceroos squad for a friendly against Ecuador in in Sydney on Friday.

He was originally selected only as a training player. But Middlesbrough midfielder Riley McGree picked up a flu virus while traveling to Sydney from England and Australia coach Graham Arnold moved Irankunda into the main squad on Thursday.

“We only just saw (McGree) for the first time this morning,” Arnold said. “He’s had the flu and those types of things so it gives Nestory the chance to be in the 26-man squad, and we’ll see how the game goes.”

Irankunda would surpass Duncan Cummings, who won his first cap in 1975 against China aged 17 years and 139 days, as Australia’s youngest-ever male player if he gets onto the field on Friday.

Irankunda is eligible to represent Tanzania, Burundi or Australia at international level due to family or residency considerations. He has represented Australia at the under-17 level.

The seven goals Irankunda has scored for Adelaide United this season are all off his right foot and booming into the corner of the net. He then celebrates with a double or triple somersault.

Ecuador and Australia will play a second friendly next Tuesday in Melbourne.

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