READY: Socceroos Robbie Kruse and Alex Wilkinson during a training session in Melbourne yesterday.
READY: Socceroos Robbie Kruse and Alex Wilkinson during a training session in Melbourne yesterday. JOE CASTROGETTY IMAGES

Socceroos aiming to grab their chance at Asian Cup

SOCCEROOS stars Ivan Franjic, Nathan Burns and Robbie Kruse all watched on with personal disappointment during the World Cup earlier this year, with Franjic the only one of the three to play.

But Franjic only played just over a half of football, before tearing his hamstring early in the second half of Australia's first game against Chile.

Therefore, all three have a burning desire to excel for their country in the Asian Cup, starting against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9.

Former Roar star Franjic (pictured right) is just getting back to peak form for Russian club Torpedo Moscow. He said the best way to put his World Cup disappointment behind him would be to perform at this tournament, starting with a big opener in front of his friends and family in Melbourne.

"It was disappointing, but everything in football happens for a reason," Franjic said of his premature flight home from the global tournament in Brazil.

"The World Cup is the past now and the Asian Cup is the future. I'm looking towards the future.

"It's definitely given me more hunger to work harder to make sure I'm ready come the first game of the Asian Cup. That was always my dream - to play for my country in Melbourne in front of all my family and friends."

Another former Roar star, winger Robbie Kruse, will be a key player for Australia in this tournament.

He too is reaching peak fitness after a knee injury kept him out of the World Cup, and is back in favour at his German club side Bayer Leverkusen.

"It was a serious injury I had so it took its time. I'm getting back to where I was and I'm very confident in myself to put on some good performances," the 26-year-old said.

"My rehab went for about seven or eight months. This is the tournament I was working towards the whole time, and I see it as a chance of righting the wrong of not being able to go to the World Cup.

"I'm thankful this has come around just six months later, and hopefully we can win the tournament."

Burns will provide the Socceroos' camp with plenty of positivity - the Wellington Phoenix attacker is the A-League's top-scorer so far this season with 10 goals.

He's also waited four years to be awarded with another national-team playing kit.

"It'll be good to get back amongst the guys and back in this environment," Burns said.

"I've still got a lot of football to play and I'm still quite young, so I knew if I kept plugging away and playing good football, there was always a chance.

"Ange (Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou) has given some guys opportunities on the back of good form, so I knew if I kept going hopefully I'd get an opportunity."



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