Agostino Raring To Go

Socceroo and TSV 1860 Munich striker Paul Agostino today told Soccer Australia how glad he is be back on home turf with his Socceroo teammates

Socceroo and TSV 1860 Munich striker Paul Agostino today told Soccer Australia how glad he is be back on home turf with his Socceroo teammates.

“There-s a fantastic mood in the camp,” he said.

“These games are taken seriously but we always have a great time while doing that. We want to win, but we have a good laugh and everyone gets along well and that-s the way it should be. I think that has something to do with the Oz mentality - we know the task ahead but we-re not shaking in our boots. In Germany you definitely wouldn-t get a relaxed atmosphere in a team before a game like you do here. You-re not to be seen laughing or clowning around.”

It has been a great season in the German Bundesliga for Agostino, who suffered last season from a number of injuries, including a broken left foot, a broken knee and a damaged cruciate ligament.

“For me it-s been my best season since going to the club on the back of some fairly serious injuries. Coming back from that to have a season like this was great, especially the second half of the season when I played the last ten games straight and scored four goals.

“I-m very happy there now. I have a three-year contract, which doesn-t mean much these days but I think I-ll be there for a little while yet. It took a while to settle in to the lifestyle and mentality - it-s obviously very different, and you need to adapt. I could speak a bit of German before I went, but it still took me about a year to earn the respect of the other players. I-m very fluent now, I won-t say perfect. If you-re submersed in it you have to learn.”

Agostino is also in the lucky position of having a fellow Aussie at his club, namely striker Ned Zelic.

“Ned-s been at Munich for two and a half seasons now. We-re pretty good friends, we have a laugh at training. We even have the odd coffee after training! It-s always good to have someone like that in the team, so you can speak your own language in the dressing room every now and then and have a laugh.”

Agostino believes that any recent critics of the Socceroos- form will soon be silenced as the group starts to consolidate its strengths and provide the sort of soccer that every fan knows the national side is capable of.

“We have strengths in all areas, from Bosnich in goal to Schwarzer and Popovic in defence, to Okon to Tiatto, Viduka, Kewell when he-s available…the next few weeks will be crucial in bringing together what has the potential to be a fantastic team. Also, with games coming up like the Paraguay series you can see which players really do want to play and who it means a lot to.

“We-re a strong side, playing at good venues, and Paraguay will be also strong so it-ll be a great test for us. It-ll be a very tight series. In the first match we-ll probably be checking each other out, getting a feel for the team with a few new players in the starting line up. We-ll see how we settle down. Let-s hope we get a decent crowd and it turns into a great game for the fans.”

On Socceroo coach Frank Farina he said: “I-m glad Frank has come on board because he believes in me - there was a period before when I just wasn-t being called into the team. Frank and I see eye to eye whenever there are problems. None of us seem to mind coming here in our holidays to play for four weeks, which I think says a lot about Frank. We-d all rather play football for our country than have a break, which says a lot when you-ve been playing week-in, week-out in Europe.

At the same time as the Socceroos take on Paraguay, some of Agostino-s club teammates will be battling it out in the Euro 2000 competition.

“I don-t know if I-ll be staying up all night to watch all the games, but I-ll definitely keep an eye out. The German national team hasn-t been doing too well lately, so if I was backing a team it wouldn-t be them, but you can never rule them out. I think the surprise team to watch will be the Czech Republic - I fancy them as an outsider. Holland are great, Spain are also hot favourites, and let-s not forget Italy, the way they can pass the ball around even when they haven-t got a strong side. They-re a pleasure to watch as well. Of course I-ll be looking out for my teammate Thomas Hassler who-s just been called into the German team. He-ll be big boost for them. It-s going to be a great competition.”

Last, but definitely not least, this weekend will also be the National League Grand Final between Perth Glory and Wollongong Wolves. Agostino, who started his career playing for the Adelaide Sharks, said:

“I-d put my money on Perth with such a huge, passionate home crowd. I don-t think Perth will make the same mistake Carlton did last weekend, letting Wolves back into the game. Also they have a great coach in Bernd Stange. Whatever match you watch this weekend, there-s going to be some great soccer.”