Talk about making an instant impact.
Adelaide United youngster Mark Ochieng announced himself to the Hyundai A-League in Round 15 by scoring a stunning winner for the Reds against Melbourne City.
The 20-year-old’s ice-cool finish belied his age and lack of experience [it was just his fourth Hyundai A-League appearance] but demonstrated his massive talent.
Not bad for a player who is nominally a defender.
It’s why Ochieng is one to Watch in the race for this year’s NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.
Ochieng’s story is quite an intriguing one. He was born in Nairobi and football has been in his blood from the start, with father David even playing internationally for Kenya.
The family moved to South Australia in 2006 when Ochieng was nine, eventually getting his break when he was identified as a talented youngster by Football Federation South Australia in 2011.
He had a year at the Australian Institute of Sport before joining Adelaide United’s National Youth League side in 2014.
Ochieng has developed nicely under Reds boss Gui Amor and been a consistent performer in the South Australian NPL – scoring three goals in 40 appearances - benefitting from playing against all-age opposition.
The Australian under-17 international is nominally a right-back or winger, with his powerful frame and lightning pace his main attributes, as we saw against City last week.
While he’s only played a total of 60 minutes in the Hyundai A-League so far, you can be sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of Ochieng in the future.
An exceptional talent and definitely a player worth keeping an eye on for this season’s NAB Young Footballer of the Year award.