Macallister speechless over call-up

Central Coast Mariners striker Dylan Macallister admitted to being speechless when he received the phone call

Exclusive: Central Coast Mariners striker Dylan Macallister admitted to being speechless when he received the phone call to say he had been named in Pim Verbeek-s squad for Wednesday-s Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia in Jakarta.

Macallister, who returned to Australia after five years in Europe, has been in terrific form for the Mariners in its charge to the finals and is looking forward to fulfilling a boyhood dream of playing for the Socceroos.

“When I got the call on Sunday night, it was a big occasion for me,” he said after finishing a hot training session for the Mariners. “Its been a boyhood dream, since I started kicking a football, to represent my country and now I am going to get the chance next week, so I am really quite speechless.

“I can remember ever since I was a kid watching the national team on TV; going out to the Sydney Football Stadium and watching some of these big games they-ve had over the years to qualify for the World Cup.

“Now to be actually a part of it, it-s a great honour.”

Even though the squad will only be together for a couple of days, with he along with half the squad not arriving till Monday in Jakarta, Macallister is going to make sure he puts his best foot forward while in camp.

“This is not something you take lightly,” he said. “You-ve trained ever since you can remember on improving your football and wanting to be a better footballer and making sacrifices, so it-s just another step for me and I would like to think I will get some minutes on Wednesday and hopefully I can take advantage of it.

“It-s going to be a great occasion.”

The decision to return home after four years in Norway, has proved the most significant and best decision he made in his career to date and his selection in the Socceroos squad was justification of that.

“The priority for me coming back was to get regular games and start enjoying my football again.

“2007 for me was the toughest year I had out of the four years I had away. I wasn-t getting enough game time and I was really quite unhappy at my club.

“I was really in a tough position and I knew I had to make a change from that club and I really wasn-t sure if I should come back to the A-League or take another opportunity in Europe.

“I had been speaking with Lawrie over quite a few months; obviously I had played for him before at the old Northern Spirit and there were just so many positives about this new competition and about coming back to the Mariners. I could also be around my family again, which I hadn-t had for quite a while.

“So to now get the chance to get a Socceroo cap on Wednesday night, I mean you couldn-t have asked for much more; its really been the best four or five months of my career.”

Certainly life for the 26-year-old couldn-t be much better after recently tying the knot with his Norwegian partner and enjoying an extended run in the starting eleven for the Mariners.

“I got married a few weeks ago; my family life has been really good and I am among my family and friends again. When you are happy away from the football ground, it makes it a lot easier to enjoy yourself and work hard on the football pitch.

“The football is going really well; we have a great bunch of guys up at the Mariners. I am enjoying my football; I-m relaxed and looking forward to this Sunday with the Mariners and next Wednesday with the national team.”

Verbeek is yet to speak to Macallister about his role, but the former Qantas Joey and Qantas Under 23 representative, is under no illusions why he is in the team. Not the biggest scorer of goals for a striker (he has scored just four goals for the Mariners), the key to his game is being the target man up front and bringing other players into play around him. It-s a role he has performed with distinction this season for the Mariners.

“Of course being a striker you want to score goals. In Norway, I was in direct competition with a striker that was identical to me, but he was older and more experienced.

“I knew when the Mariners lost John Aloisi at the end of last year that they had a spot open for a big target man and that-s the role I fit.

Pim has a liking towards playing with a lone striker, or target man so to speak, so I am pretty sure that-s the reason I have been picked; to fit that role.

“At the Mariners there hasn-t been any pressure to score goals, because we are scoring goals from all over the park. I will talk with Pim and the coaching staff when we get over there and I will get more of an idea what my role will be.”

With his Mariners teammate Matt Simon also included for his stellar season in front of goals, Verbeek could well pair them together against Indonesia, but they face stiff opposition from Melbourne Victory duo of Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp.

“Both Archie (Thompson) and Danny Allsopp are experienced players and they are quite a few years older than both Matty (Simon) and myself,” Macallister had no hesitation in admitting. “Both have played in Europe and represented the Socceroos, so they are of course the more experienced pairing.

“It will come down to what formation Pim wants to go with; Archie can always drop back and play as an attacking midfielder and play behind the one or two strikers, so I think Pim has got a lot of options with the players he-s picked.

Macallister also knows this is the perfect opportunity for not only himself, but the other players in the squad, to not only show they are capable of playing at this level, but also show the Hyundai A-League is capable of producing international players for Australia on a regular basis, including the next World Cup qualifier against Japan.

“Pim-s always put a great emphasise on picking players who are playing every week and he-s done that and picked the guys that are really in form.

“I think there are a lot of guys in this team that will be making their debut; I think there is only 5-6 who have a Socceroos cap from before, so it-s a very inexperienced team and going over to Indonesia and playing in front of 90,000 people, it-s going to be a pretty intimidating atmosphere.

“Pim-s been strong to his word at given the guys here in Australia a chance in the national team and we can show him first hand that we are good enough playing at international level.

“If you step up in this game, there is a chance he might pick you for the squad to play against Japan in two weeks time, so there are a lot of opportunities for these guys.”

Having never played in Jakarta before, Macallister is confident the intimidating atmosphere and conditions will be overcome by the players and a result can be achieved.

“We are going to an atmosphere and a climate where it-s going to be very intimidating. Here in Sydney its been quite warm for the past two weeks, so its probably helping us out.

“The guys are going to be jumping out of their skin to represent their country for the first time and there is a lot at stake. It will be quite a special night and I think we should do well.”