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Garang Kuol promises to recover after difficult loan from Volendam

MELBOURNE, Australia – Back in Australia as part of a touring Newcastle United squad, Socceroos youngster Garang Kuol says a difficult loan spell in the Netherlands provided him with valuable learning experience about the tough football realities.

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Kuol, 19, spent the season on loan at FC Volendam, who won just four games on their way to relegation from the Eredivisie, but only stayed off the bottom of the table thanks to an 18-point deduction suffered by the Vitesse in April.

The young attacker’s arrival on the Dutch coast seemed full of promise, as the club had previously attempted to secure him on loan and had given more minutes to players under 21 than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2022-23. .

However, in December there were unrest in Volendam, with internal clashes over the club’s management resulting in the dismissal of club president Jan Smit and the resignation of coach Wim Jonk and most of his staff. Kuol would end up playing just 768 minutes in all competitions during the campaign, and just 32 in 2024 after new leaders Regillio Simons and Michael Dingsdag instituted a 5-3-2 system that saw him fall from grace.

However, the five-time Socceroo told ESPN that the challenging period still had its positives.

“It was a good experience,” he told ESPN. “I started the season and reality hit you. Things change a lot, new coaches, new staff, a lot of things can change in football.

“It’s nice to experience that, just put it in your backpack and move on.

“Football is not a race, it’s a journey. Things happen. You have ups and downs. You have to keep going and keep working.”

One of Kuol’s few opportunities to play in 2024 came in the Australia youth national team setup, part of the Olyroos squad for the AFC Under-23 Championship in April.

However, further misfortune befell him as he battled illness throughout the tournament, was taken to hospital for precautionary tests after the opening match against Jordan and was given limited minutes against Indonesia and Qatar when Australia were eliminated in the group stage. .

“It was a very good (experience), but it was unfortunate for me because I found myself in the hospital, which prevented me from playing as much as I wanted to,” Kuol said.

“We were very disappointed not to qualify for the Olympic Games. But it’s another good experience to have.”

“I’m always in contact with people from (Socceroos) and also with Tony Vidmar with the 23. They check on me, how I am physically, how I am (in more general terms).”

Now fit and looking ahead to next season, Kuol is back with Newcastle for their tour Down Under, making his debut for the club as a 71st-minute substitute in a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur in front of 78,419 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

Set to play a bigger role in Friday’s match against an A-League men’s All-Star team at Marvel Stadium, discussions are still continuing on Tyneside over what his next move will be. However, manager Eddie Howe said Wednesday it was important for him to succeed.

“It’s always very difficult to say for sure what’s going to happen with a player at this stage because there’s a long way to go before the season starts,” Howe said.

“But possibly another loan spell for him will be important. He’s had a couple of loan spells now but I think he needs the next one to be successful. We need him to get more game time. Hopefully that will happen.”

For Kuol, the goal is simple.

“As I said, football is not a race, it is a journey,” he said. “The goal is to play, develop, work hard and keep learning.”

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