Brisbane Roar midfielder Ivan Franjic won’t let his recent Socceroos selection distract him from the task at hand when his team take on defending A-League Champions Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday.
Franjic, previously considered a fringe Socceroo, joins national team regular and Roar teammate Matt McKay in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the upcoming friendly against Costa Rica; however, the 26 year old said he was first and foremost focused on ensuring Roar continue their table-topping start to the campaign.
“Definitely Sunday’s the most important. If we win we stay on top, so that’s my number one worry at the moment,” Franjic said.
“I’m a professional player and I’m here at Brisbane playing well week-in, week-out. That’s how I got my shot with the Socceroos, so I want to continue that form with Brisbane.”
Franjic however stated his personal pride in earning the call-up to add to his five caps earned at the East Asian Cup earlier this year.
“As a kid you always dream to represent your country and play at the highest level you possibly can. So to get a call-up, I’m stoked and I’m looking forward to it.”
Franjic’s selection has demonstrated Postecoglou’s previously stated willingness to draw on talent from inside the A-League, and Franjic said it would encourage all players in the competition to up their game.
“It’s a boost and it shows how far the A-league has come from season one to season nine. Every year the competition is improving and with Ange saying that it gives A-League players hope.”
Roar manager Mike Mulvey described Franjic’s selection as “thoroughly deserved” and said he believes the two-time A-League Grand Final winner has the talent to take his game to the next level.
“He’s a wonderful footballer, he’s got the ability if he wants to go the whole way. He really can make himself a fixture in the Socceroos squad I’m sure.”
Franjic has been instrumental in the Roar’s three wins thus far, and will be vital again as the Roar line up against Mariners on their home turf without key players Besart Berisha, Shane Stefanutto and Jade North.
Mulvey indicated he will give young defenders Corey Brown and James Donachie starts this weekend, and Franjic said it was time for the younger members of the squad to take their opportunities.
“I think every week’s a test but this week’s for the young boys, they’ve come in and they’ve got to take their opportunities,” Franjic said.
“It’s all about taking opportunities at the right time. They’ve been training well and it’s important to transfer that to the game.”
Following Roar’s dramatic 2011 Grand Final victory over the Mariners, matches between the two teams have taken on an extra intensity and Franjic said he was looking forward to the challenge once again this weekend.
“I think we’ve played each other that many times over the last few years it is like our closest rivalry. We’ve done pretty well done in Gosford, so hopefully that will continue.”
Franjic cited the expected return of striker Daniel McBreen to the Mariners match squad as a cause of concern going in to the match.
“He was top goal scorer last year and you give him a chance he’ll score. We have to be on top of our game defensively and punish attackingly,” Franjic concluded.