Aloisi To Push Claims For Regular Starting Berth

Qantas Socceroo striker John Aloisi is looking to the two games against Iraq and Indonesia to push his claims for a regular berth in the starting eleven. Aloisi, who for so long, has had to play second fiddle to the likes of Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell when the full squad is available, aims to play more than just a bit part role and wants a major

Qantas Socceroo striker John Aloisi is looking to the two games against Iraq and Indonesia to push his claims for a regular berth in the starting eleven. Aloisi, who for so long, has had to play second fiddle to the likes of Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell when the full squad is available, aims to play more than just a bit part role and wants a major role as Australia heads towards the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

“I want to be big part of this side and not just a squad player,” said Aloisi, from the Socceroos team hotel in Sydney. “I want to be in the starting eleven.”

While winning a major trophy with his club in Osasuna is one goal, he left no doubt as to what his main objective is for his career.

“To win a major trophy if I can over there, but to get to the World Cup, that-s my main aim. I want to perform well for my club, so I can be ready for the National team and preferably as a starting eleven player for the National team. I want to get Australia to the World Cup and hopefully do well at the World Cup.”

This will be Aloisi-s first appearance for the senior team, since the OFC Nations Cup in June of last year and he is looking forward to the matches.

“My target is to play, because I haven-t played much for Australia lately due to one thing or another and I want to play and prove to everyone that I am capable of doing well for Australia.

“I just want to get out and play with the boys, it-s good to be back here and since the Olympics I haven-t played with the National team and I am looking forward to it.”

That is good news for coach Frank Farina, as Aloisi, like Kewell and Viduka, has been plagued by injuries this season, but he is confident he is over them and ready for a big end to the season. He is even thankful for surviving the flight this time around, after experiencing a nightmare trip home the last time the Socceroos played in Australia last October.

“Finally I am getting over my injuries that I have had problems with this year and in the last month I have played a few games. Fitness wise I-m feeling pretty good and I have been lucky enough to get out a bit earlier than the others, so I don-t have problems in recovering from the flight and I should be ready for Saturday.”

“I didn-t want to repeat the same situation as last time (October) and come all this way and be injured for the game. Long haul flights do take a lot out of you and if you are carrying a few little injuries, it can make it even worse. We-re in a position now (with his club Osasuna) where we are fighting relegation and not right on them if I go back injured.”

Forcing his way into the strongest starting eleven however will not be the easiest task and he knows he will need some strong performances to force Farina-s hand. While scoring goals will go a long way to helping his cause, he does not think that will be how his performances are rated.

“Yes, but it-s also about playing well,” Aloisi said in relation scoring goals as a performance indicator. “For me I love to score goals, but also you like to play well and if you play well the goals will come. However you can-t put too much pressure on yourself for these games.”

“I am just really looking forward to playing for Australia again, my family coming over from Adelaide, hopefully there will be big crowds in Sydney and Perth and will be a good atmosphere.”

It has been 32 years since we last met Iraq at a senior level and in a good omen, it was during the World Cup campaign of the only successful Australian team to make it through to a World Cup finals in 1974.

However, Aloisi is one of the few Qantas Socceroo players that has a first hand knowledge of Iraq and some of its players, after being involved in the Athens Olympic Games quarter final match last year. Iraq won that match 1-0 and Aloisi rates them highly and is expecting a similar performance from them on Saturday.

“I expect the same sort of style. They were a team that not only ourselves, they surprised Portugal, beating them 4-2 and Portugal had a good side out. They did well, caught us on the counter, had some quick players, physically they were pretty strong and I think they are not a bad side.

“They surprised a lot of people and hopefully they won-t surprise us again.”

While Aloisi has ambitions for a regular berth in the Australian starting eleven, the same applies to his club side Osasuna in Spain-s Primera Liga. After a solid start, which saw them hovering in the top half of the competition, the wheels have fallen off and seen them slid towards the relegation zone.

Aloisi however remains positive they can avoid such a disaster and even grab his and the club-s first piece of silverware, as they are in the Semi Finals of the Kings Cup.

“We could still turn the season around,” he said when asked about the club-s slide down the table. “We-re seven points in front of the bottom three, so we are not in real danger just yet.

“We are also in the semi final of the Cup, so if we can get to the final and there is no real big teams really. There is Betis, Athletic Bilbao and we are playing Athletico Madrid home and away in the semi final, so we could end up having a good season. We will just wait and see what happens in the last two months of the season.”

“It will be the first time for me and it will be the first time for Osasuna to win anything major, so it will be brilliant for me, as I have been overseas now for over 10 years and never won a major trophy and it would something I can look back on and be very proud of and I am hoping this year might be our year.

Another goal Aloisi has in the back of his mind, like many of his Australian teammates, is returning to play in the Hyundai A-League, although it won-t be anytime in the neat future. Making the World Cup though could fast track that decision.

“I probably talk a little bit more about it than most, because my brother (Ross) is playing in it (the Hyundai A-League or going to play in it. He is really looking forward to it, especially with what happened in Adelaide last year with the big crowds they got and he-s hoping that the rest of the teams will do the same and get the big crowds.

“Who knows after the World Cup how many players will be coming back. We are just concentrating on the World Cup for now, but a lot of the players have to be in Europe, playing at a high level until the World Cup. After the World Cup I am sure you will see quite a few of players coming back and not at late age. You think about it, Craig Moore will be 30-31, myself, if I did come back, although I am not saying I am going to, I-ll be the same age and a lot of the others, so the league could be very strong.”

“It (making the World Cup) is the most important thing, not only for myself but I think Australian football. We need to make the World Cup and we-ve said that in the past. If that happens as a player, you feel like you have achieved something and that-s why we are overseas, so that the national team is a lot stronger. After you-ve played at the World Cup, you might start to think about coming home.”