Two Socceroos were front and centre overnight of the Australian football world last night. Maccabi Haifa winger Nikita Rukavytsya and Blackpool midfielder Kenny Dougall both saw their teams win silverware, albeit in two very different circumstances.
The former Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers hitman scored his 19th league goal (23 in all competitions) as he led his side to the Israeli Premier League title. With 36 games played, Rukavytsya and his Maccabi Haifa side clinched the league title with a 3-2 victory over Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
It put them four points clear over second-placed Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was all to play for on the final matchday, Maccabi Haifa held a two-point lead over Tel Aviv. Rukavytsya scored what was his 19th league goal in the 34th minute as the league title was won.
Rukavytsya scoring goals for fun
The Australian winger/striker has been in superb form this year and has followed up his great work from last season. Leading the Israeli Premier League’s goalscoring charts with 19 goals. His closest challenger being Liel Abada on 12 goals. Last season, Nikita was in great scoring form, netting 22 times in 36 games. He topped the goalscoring charts as Maccabi Haifa finished second to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Since signing with the Israeli Premier League side back in 2016, Rukavytsya has a very respectable scoring record. Netting 67 times in his 152 appearances however it has been his last two seasons in which he has lit up the league.
During his first three years at Maccabi Haifa, Rukavytsya struggled. Scoring just 23 goals in 88 appearances however it now appears he has finally got his teeth into the league. Back-to-back 20 plus goal-scoring seasons and winning the Golden Boot in consecutive years, Nikita could find himself to the subject of severe interest from European clubs.
Kenny Dougall at the double for Blackpool
Rukavytsya however was not the only Australian to make headlines overnight. The English Football League Playoffs are one of the biggest fixtures on the football calendar. Socceroo Kenny Dougall was in action for League one side Blackpool F.C against Lincoln.
Dougall’s side went behind after just 60 seconds courtesy of an Ollie Turton own goal. However, the Socceroos midfielder brought his side level just past the half-hour mark. After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Dougall shifted it onto his left foot, and he rifled home his shot from distance past Lincoln keeper Alex Palmer.
Just nine minutes into the second half Blackpool had the lead. After Blackpool striker Jerry Yates turned in the box, he laid off the ball to Dougall who let fly, this time on his right foot as he hammered home from outside the box to give Blackpool what would end up being the Playoff promotion winner.
Thanks to Kenny Dougall’s brace lifting Blackpool to victory, he will now be plying his trade in the English Championship next season. Dougall will now join the list of Australian footballers playing in one of the best competitions in the world in the English Championship. With 22 players currently in the English football system, it seems Australian football is in good hands going forward.
The news of Rukavytsya and Dougall’s exploits overnight, coupled with the news of Ange Postecoglou’s impending appointment as Celtic boss, it has been a great 48 hours for Australian football.
Attention now turns to international duty in Kuwait as the Socceroos continue on their World Cup Qualifying campaign next week