D-Day: Dimi and Daniel's date with destiny
One is a recently capped Caltex Socceroo. The other is an almost certain future international.
And Newcastle Jets star Dimi Petratos and Melbourne City playmaker Daniel Arzani are set to have a significant say in the outcome of the first Hyundai A-League semi-final on Friday night.
Arzani recently won City’s award for supporter’s player of the year while Petratos collected Newcastle’s equivalent as well as the club’s overall player of the season gong.
But which of them will go on to have the opportunity to get their hands on the most coveted silverware of all – the Hyundai A-League Championship trophy?
Both players were standouts in their respective sides’ runs to the Hyundai A-League’s top three and each brings a range of attacking weaponry that could blow Friday night’s sudden-death showdown wide open.
Petratos was up and running nice and early in the season, scoring in Newcastle’s opening day 5-1 romp in the F3 derby that proved to be the first act in a brilliant season.
In the six months since, Petratos has consistently delivered on the immense promise he’s always had and not only played a leading role in the Jets’ rise up the Hyundai A-League ladder, but forced himself into the thinking of the new national coach in World Cup year.
Bert van Marwijk picked Petratos in his first Caltex Socceroos squad and handed him an international debut against Norway last month. No-one could argue he didn’t deserve it.
There were plenty debating the omission of Arzani from that squad with many believing he could transfer the X-Factor he’s shown at Hyundai A-League level to the green and gold of Australia.
For now, that will have to wait, but the volume of noise demanding his inclusion was the best evidence of the impact this teenager has had for Melbourne City this season.
Arzani wasn’t thrown into the fray by Warren Joyce until round 11, but when he came off the bench to change the round 14 clash with Wellington, the combination of his form and outrageous talent was too much to ignore.
He’s started every game since.
Arzani and Petratos are game-changers. They can score and create goals, but almost as importantly, both throw huge doubt into the minds of opposition players with the ball at his feet.
Those hapless defenders back-track hesitantly, terrified of diving in for fear of being sat on their backsides, at times appearing almost incapable of stopping another attacking opportunity being created.
Both men have superb close control, both are selfless enough to utilize team-mates in better positions and both are capable of moments of magic that can send their team to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final at the expense of the other.
If one of Dimi Petratos or Daniel Arzani is named man-of-the-match on Friday night, you can almost guarantee he and his team-mates will be preparing for the biggest game of the season next week.
The other will still be able to look back on a brilliant season, but will have to watch the Big Show with the rest of us.