Western United will take on Adelaide United at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on Sunday with two future superstars set to be in the spotlight.
Noah Botic and Nestory Irankunda will lock horns on the pitch in a battle of two of Australia’s brightest young stars.
On the Green and Black side, Botic has emerged as a regular starter in John Aloisi’s team and is continuing to grow into one of the nation’s most exciting attackers.
The 21-year-old is fresh off a brilliant performance with the Olyroos on Wednesday morning where he scored two goals in a 3-1 friendly win against Saudi Arabia. On the back of that display, Botic will be on a high and ready to go come Sunday afternoon.
Given an opportunity for consistent Isuzu UTE A-League Men minutes for the first time last season, Botic repaid the faith of Aloisi and the coaching staff with a superb run of form.
After making his first professional start in January against Sydney FC, Botic went on to score six goals in an 11-game span to end the season and has already opened his account this term with his ice cold penalty winner against Melbourne City in Round 1.
With a killer instinct when given a sight of goal, Botic has emerged as one of the league’s deadliest predators in the box and is a threat to any opposition with his intelligent movement and ability to find the back of the net.
That was on display for the Ballarat faithful last season when Botic scored a tremendous goal against Perth Glory at Mars Stadium, controlling Lachie Wales’ cross with his chest before blasting a terrific volley into the net.
The youngster also has experience scoring against Adelaide already, with his first goal in the Isuzu UTE A-League coming against the Reds.
Already growing into a leader at just 21 years of age, Botic is set for a bright future and will be eager to prove that again with another top performance.
On the other side, Irankunda has been the talk of Australian football for some time now with his dazzling performances earning him a high profile move to German giants Bayern Munich.
The Adelaide starlet initially burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old in 2022 and has racked up nine goals in 38 appearances since then.
But it’s the manner in which he has scored them which is perhaps even more impressive than his strike rate – direct free-kicks, long-range screamers and strikes that almost rip the net off.
The Adelaide youngster has blistering pace and explosive athleticism alongside brilliant technical ability and a raw passion for the game, making him one of the most exciting players in the league.
Set to play out the remainder of this season at Adelaide before moving to Munich, Irankunda will continue to shine in the Isuzu UTE A-League and fans will only have a limited number of chances left to watch him live.
That starts this weekend against Western United and Aloisi and his players will be up to the challenge of keeping him away from goal.
With Botic firing at the other end, the Green and Black will be gunning for a return to winning ways and a big three points on home soil in Ballarat.
Remember, kids aged 16 and under can register for the Liberty Pass for free access to this match, United’s next home game against Wellington Phoenix and every game in the Liberty A-League Women season.