Boyle eyeing another star turn against Rangers

Reuters

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The darting front-runner fired a stunning Hampden Park hat-trick back in November, as the the capital club shocked the Light Blues 3-1 to reach the Scottish League Cup final.

Back in Edinburgh after a six-month stay with Saudi side Al-Faisaly, Socceroos star Boyle will delight not just the Hibs faithful if he can muster another master class against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men.

Celtic’s ex-Australia boss Ange Postecoglou - whose Hoops side share top spot in the Scottish Premiership with Rangers three games into the new season - and current incumbent Graham Arnold, watching from afar in Sydney, will also be praying for another Boyle-over.

Pundits are baying for coach Lee Johnson to this time start Boyle - who has made two impressive substitute appearances so far since his return from the Middle East.

Up to speed again after already making an impact with his late leveller in the derby clash against Hearts, Boyle, 29, believes he’s well placed to jangle Gers’ nerves.

He started through the middle on a day - that will still haunt van Bronckhorst - rather than operating from his normal position out wide. The prevailing wisdom is he can do another job on Rangers.

“I’d love to say that might happen again - who knows, football is a funny game,” Boyle said. “Nobody expected things to go the way they did on that occasion but it was a great day for me personally, and also for the club.

“But it’s a new season and both teams are stronger I believe.

“It’ll be tough - they’ve had a great start to the season and still have it all to play for in their Champions League qualifier (against PSV).

“We know it will be difficult but we also know that on our day we can cause them problems. 

“We’ve hurt them in the past with pace in behind (Boyle’s treble a case in point), and if we get the ball down and get them moving about we can cause them real trouble.

“When you play the top teams you need to be clinical and have to be switched on at all times because they’re such a threat and will pounce on any mistakes.”

Boyle’s return to Scotland was precipitated by Al-Faisaly falling out of the top flight, and his form over the coming months will be key for Australia in November and December if it is to make waves in a World Cup group including world champion France, Denmark and Tunisia.

Football Australia is pondering offering an extended deal to coach Graham Arnold should Boyle and co ruffle feathers in Qatar.

The Socceroos’ spine-tingling penalty shootout win over Peru to clinch qualification portends more fireworks.

If Arnold were to stay on, Boyle would be the first to celebrate.

“I keep telling him he was the one to give me the chance to represent Australia, and he’s one man I will never let down,” Boyle said. “I’m thankful for what he’s done for me and if he were to remain in charge after the World Cup it would be fantastic.

“He’s brought everyone together, brought in a lot of fresh faces through the Olyroos and I think there are a lot of exciting times to come.

“I always joke to Arnie that if he left that would be me! But of course it’s ultimately up to the federation what happens.

“He can be proud and his family can be proud of what he’s achieved. He’s done an amazing job.

“He’s trusted so many youngsters to come in and prove themselves at the top level, and you saw that against Peru where the likes of Kai Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson did so well in a pressure game.

“That’s what Arnie does - he gives you belief and when you pull on that Australia’s jersey you give everything.”

Boyle had his heart in his mouth after his penalty was saved in the shootout against Peru in Doha, but the fates were with him as Arnold’s men got through 5-4 in football’s ultimate lottery.

“You have to be brave to step up in those situations. I thought I hit the ball well but it was a good save,” he said. “You could say the world could have swallowed me up at that moment. Ajdin Hrustic grabbed me and said ‘don’t worry we’ll get you out of this’.

“Of course Redders (Mark Redmayne) came on and he was the hero.

“I thought we deserved it overall, even though we did it the hard way just as was the case in the previous campaign.

“We all stuck together - we’re like a band of brothers. It still probably hasn’t sunk it yet though and won’t until we get there. Qualifying was probably the best feeling ever.”


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