Coming off the back of arguably the best season of his career, Nathan Burns now wants to parlay his Hyundai A-League goal-scoring form into breaking his scoring duck with the Socceroos.
The 27-year-old was superb for the Wellington Phoenix last season, ending the campaign with 13 goals from 24 games.
But he has yet to find the net in 12 appearances at senior international level and wants to put that statistic right against Kyrgyzstan in their opening World Cup qualifier next week.
“I hope so. It’s something I would love to add to my résumé,” Burns, the A-League player of the year, told FFA TV.
“If I keep playing the way I’m playing the chances will come. It’s one thing I’ve always thought of is scoring a goal for the Socceroos.
“I’ve had some tough games the last three starts, hopefully this one will be a bit easier."
On paper that would seem the case, with the Asian champions taking on the world’s 177th-ranked nation in Bishkek.
But Kyrgyzstan made a winning start to their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-1 triumph over Bangladesh on Thursday night.
The home side should be full of confidence and will have nothing to lose, adding pressure on the Socceroos to get a result.
“Any game is difficult. But there is a lot of expectations on the Socceroos so when we go to places like this, not only do we have to win, we have to play really good attacking football,” Burns said.
“We have that expectation on ourselves as well.
“But at the same time it’s a great experience to go to these places. They are once in a lifetime opportunities to go into these small countries and see their environments, their culture.
“I know a lot of my memories playing under-17s and 20s, Young Socceroo was these types of games. It's a really important part of our career and I really enjoy going to these remote countries.”
But don’t think the Socceroos are there just for some sightseeing.
Coach Ange Postecoglou has used the squad’s week-long camp in Dubai to drill into his side how important it is to get off to a winning start on the road to Russia 2018.
Pushing his players hard in sessions in 40 degree heat have quickly blown away any notion of underestimating their little-known opponents.
“It’s going to be a really tough game with the conditions, the pitch, it’s going to be difficult,” Burns said.
“But if we do all the reparation right on our terms we go into the game, it doesn’t matter who play. If we’re playing Germany like last game or Kyrgyzstan this game it’s no different.
“We have to assess the way we play and we’re pushing for the big picture in the next four years. We want to be up there with one of the best teams in the world."
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