Could Aleksandar Susnjar rise to prominence in China?

Aleksandar Susnjar may not be a name that’s too familiar to most Australian football fans right now, however that could all change by the completion of this month’s 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China.

The well-travelled 22-year-old, who will join FK Mlada Boleslav in the Czech top flight on a three-year contract once his commitments with Ante Milicic’s U23s are complete, could play an integral role for the green and gold in Group D of the tournament, and, hopefully, beyond.

Born in Perth, Susnjar has spent the past nine years of his footballing career in Eastern Europe – first as a youth player in Serbia, then as a professional in Lithuania, Serbia, Romania, and Czech Republic.

Throughout 2017 Susnjar played regularly in the heart of defence for FK Teplice in the Czech First League, helping steer the side from the Na Stindalech Stadium to sixth place in the competition prior to the winter break.

Aleksandar Susnjar (right)
Aleksandar Susnjar (right)

The 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China represents Susnjar’s first involvement with Australia at youth level, and he’s planning to make the most of the chance to impress Caltex Socceroos Assistant Coach Milicic while in Jiangsu Province.

“This is my first involvement with Australia’s U23s,” Susnjar told from the team’s base camp in Kunshan. “The training sessions have been good and it’s been nice to get to know all of the players. We have a good bunch of guys and it will be good to see how we go in the tournament.”

“On the first day we were in camp we sat together and discussed what a big opportunity this is for everyone. We are keen to prove what we can do in the coming matches,” he said.

While Susnjar may be new to Australia’s U23 team environment, he arrives in camp battled hardened having determinedly navigated his way up the ranks in the often cut-throat world of Eastern European professional football over the past few years.

It’s this experience that could help add some serious steel to Australia’s defence throughout the continental Championship.

“I left Australia when I was pretty young, 13,” Susnjar, who started in Australia’s 2-1 international friendly win over Thailand in Shanghai on Saturday, explained. “I spent my whole youth career in Serbia, then went to Lithuania for a year. While the league is not so strong in Lithuania it was good for me to get some first team experience.”

“After that I had some trouble with my knee and required an operation. I spent about six months out of the game before heading back to Lithuania from Serbia.

“From Lithuania I went to Romania on trial. I was successful during the trial period and signed a contract with Gaz Metan Medias for eight months.

“From Romania I got an offer to sign in Czech Republic with FK Teplice, and this season has been good. Although I agreed to a three-year contract with FK Mlada Boleslav in July, the manager at FK Teplice was good and continued to play me. He could have put me on the sidelines, but I have played all the games this season and haven’t had any injuries.”

Aleksandar Susnjar

Susnjar’s family will be watching from Sydney when Australia takes on Syria, Vietnam, and Korea Republic at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China. All three of Australia’s Group D matches at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China will be broadcast LIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ad-break free during play on FOX SPORTS.

Australia’s results at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship will impact the team’s seeding for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship, which will double as the qualification tournament for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

Australia U23 v Syria U23
Thursday 11 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Second half LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 501 following ‘Just For Kicks’

Vietnam U23 v Australia U23
Sunday 14 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Full match LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 506

Korea Republic U23 v Australia U23
Wednesday 17 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local); 10.30pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Full match LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on FOX SPORTS 501