AJ Inia is a talented 19 years old midfielder with Tongan citizenship that is playing in the Australian leagues since the U15 level.
He was one the most important players of Melbourne Knights in the 2019 National Premier League Victoria and he is now part of an ambitious project. Despite having some offers from Asian clubs, including Phnom Pehn from Camboja, he decided to stay in Australia to play for George Cross FC – “A great opportunity came up for me to be a major signing for a club here is Melbourne as well as to train with an A-League team once a week” said Inia.
The A-League club that he talks about is Western United – the newest team of Hyundai A-League, the major football league in the country. George Cross FC share training grounds with Western United so Inia will have the opportunity to be closer to an A-League team – George Cross will count on some former A-League players to get the promotion for Victoria National Premier League and become a strong team in the Premier League.
Inia has never played for Australia National Teams but he has been close to represent Olyroos (Australia U23) this year – “I was cut short of the Australian U23 shortlist so I was hoping to represent them in the Olympic qualifiers, but I had to miss out because I could not renew my passport in time.” he said.
Despite the Australia’s interest he is willing to represent Tonga at Senior level – “I never spoke with them (Tonga FA), just with the coach (Timote Moleni) […] But there is a competition this year that I am keen on playing in” stated Inia. He has never hidden his Tongan roots as he keeps his citizenship available to public on social media.
Tonga Football Association already knows about him and he could be a great addition for 2020 OFC Nations Cup. Inia could follow Mohammad Rajani’s steps: living in Australia but representing Tonga at international level. They are not the only Tongan players that play abroad and Tonga FA should pay more attention on these players in order to strengthen the National Team.