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Australia's Maclaren cherishes 'proudest moment'

Canberra: Jamie Maclaren declared it his ‘proudest moment in a football jersey’ after scoring a hat-trick for Australia in their Asian Qualifiers Group B tie against Nepal on Thursday.

The Melbourne City striker had one international goal to his name heading into the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying clash at GIO Stadium in Canberra, a strike against Palestine in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

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The 26-year-old got off to a dream start on his 14th cap, scoring twice inside 20 minutes with a pair of poacher’s efforts from inside the six-yard box.

With the clock ticking past 90 minutes, Maclaren completed his hat-trick by lashing in Australia’s fifth from Jackson Irvine’s chest pass and he admitted he never stopped believing it was possible.

“My proudest moment in a football jersey,” Maclaren said. “Representing my country in Canberra, scoring a hat-trick as a striker it’s the best feeling.

“I owe a lot to my teammates and the manager for putting faith.

“At times you question yourself ‘are you good enough at this level’? And I feel I am, I have believed through those tough years.”

Maclaren was not the only proud Socceroo to walk off the field in the Australian capital.

Harry Souttar revealed all he had been thinking about was securing a clean sheet on his Australia debut and never in his wildest dreams did he imagine celebrating a goal.

The strapping centre-half towered over the Nepalese defence to score Australia’s third from a corner on 23 minutes.

He then watched his glancing header deflect in off defender Dinesh Rajbanshi on 59 minutes.

“When I came over here concentrating on the game, it was just all about the clean sheet - get a clean sheet - let the strikers do the rest.

“So I’m absolutely delighted the get the two goals and the win as well.”

Souttar’s mother is from Western Australia, while his dad is Scottish and his brother John has three senior international caps for Scotland.

“It’s a proud moment for me, especially for my mum as well,” he added.

“We do have a bit of a laugh about it [at home] and I wish [John] well but this is my chosen path.”

The 5-0 win meant Australia have a perfect record of two wins and will head to Chinese Taipei confident of adding to their haul on Tuesday.

Source: Football Federation Australia

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