Newcastle Jets hope Argentine Federico Arias can shine

PROMISING: Federico Arias
PROMISING: Federico Arias

AS far as first impressions go, it was right up there.

Federico Arias shrugged off a defender and burst down the left edge. As the cover came across, he stopped on a 20 cent piece, switched the ball to his non-preferred right foot and unleashed a stinging strike from the corner of the penalty area into the top-right corner.

It might have only been a goal in a small-sided training game, but it was straight from top shelf and brought a smile to the face of Jets coach Branko Culina.

Arias produced more magic from his bag of tricks, but the sublime strike was the talking point.

"He scored a great goal and is probably more like what we are looking for," Culina said.

Arias is the fifth overseas hopeful, following Wang Dong, Stephen Carson, Jorge Florentin and Xiao Zhanbo, to vie for one place on Culina's roster.

Red tape ended the chances of Wang and Carson, Florentin was sent packing yesterday and Xiao has a calf injury.

One swallow doesn't make a summer, and Arias will have to reproduce the goods against Bankstown tonight if he is to convince Culina he is the one.

"You can tell a bad player straight away," Culina said.

"A good one is a bit more difficult to judge. You want to see them in different conditions and there is nothing better to judge them on than a game.

"Overseas players have to give more than the ones we have here, otherwise what's the point."

Arias, 30, will start on the left side of midfield tonight.

A journeyman affectionately known as "El Torpedo", Arias is off contract at Argentine second-division club Tiro Federal, who beat the Young Socceroos 2-1 in a tournament in Rosario yesterday.

He has also had stints in Chile, Peru, Italy and England, where he was signed by Southampton manager Gordon Strachan in 2003 but did not play in the first team.

Despite attracting interest from Spain and South America, Arias is keen to make a life for his wife, Romena, and two sons, Franco, 6, and Ignacio, 2, in Australia.

"I have seen [the A-League] only on the internet," Arias said.

"It is a new league, but I think it is a good opportunity for me to play here. Hopefully I can stay here a number of years with my family.

"It is a young team with two or three experienced players. I think, maybe, I can stay here and play the season. I hope so I feel good about today."