Next four weeks hopefully a springbaord for Griffiths

Joel Griffiths is hoping the next four weeks will be a springboard to greater things.

Playing for the national team has been a hard road for the reigning Hyundai A-League Player of the Year Joel Griffiths, but he-s hoping the next four weeks will be a springboard to greater things.

At the end of last century, Griffiths had the world at his feet, starring in the National League and was part of the national under 20 and Olympic squads. His missed out on selection in the 2000 Olympics and soon after several more successful seasons in the National League; he headed overseas to Switzerland to further his career.

But like so many before him and many more to come, things didn-t quite work out. His stay at Neuchâtel Xamax, a middle tier team in the Swiss 1st Division, had its high-s and low-s, his last season, which was very productive, earning him a transfer to the once high-flying club Leeds United.

That good spell saw him included in Guus Hiddink-s squad for the World Cup play-off games against Uruguay, although he played no part in the matches.

That should have provided the springboard, but for Griffiths the Leeds experience turned sour, as the new manager didn-t figure Griffiths in his plans and his World Cup ambitions went with it.

A return to Australia for the second season of the Hyundai A-League provided a new lease of life from a club point of view, but his international career remained in limbo.

After being overlooked for early games, his form at Japan-s Avispa Fukuoka, where he was on loan for three months, saw Verbeek bring the striker into camp and get a start against Ghana in last Friday-s friendly.

Acknowledging the same won-t happen on Sunday, Griffiths though remains hopeful he will play some role in the upcoming matches.

“I probably won-t start,” he said with a realistic smile on his face. “There are so many good attacking players in the team; if I do great, but if I don-t, I-ve just have to work harder and hopefully there is a chance there waiting for you.

“I think I can give something,” he added. “Trying to get a few combinations is the biggest issue at the moment. Which players work best with certain styles of play.

“If I can show something at training, then hopefully I can show something on Sunday.”

For Griffiths; being involved in the four weeks of qualifiers, is as much about getting to experience the environment of a Socceroos camp, as wanting to play.

“It-s fine; we-ve got a good coaching staff; all the players get along well and they-re a great bunch of guys and the new players including myself and they-ve (the older players) helped us a lot to settle into the environment of a Socceroos camp. It-s a good experience for myself; it-s always good to be in the mix.”

From an attacking sense, nobody doubts Griffiths ability, but he acknowledges there are areas of his game he needs to significantly work on, if he wants to be a regular international player.

“He-s been playing me in behind the front two (here in camp), which is a position I am comfortable with. You have to get involved defensively and attackingly.

“He has been quoted as saying I am a little bit lazy in defence, which I-m trying to rectify and the quicker I do that and show that I can defend and do my duties defensively than the better it is for myself.”

Griffiths said the players as a collectively were buoyed by the decision for the games to go ahead and are now really looking forward to these games.

“Before yesterday-s training session we got the all clear for the game to go ahead and it was a relief feeling.

“The players, especially the European-based players, really like to come back and play on home soil, so it-s a good feeling I think.

“It-s a great squad; the way they train; the way they prepare themselves; if everyone prepares 100%, I don-t think we-ve got a problem.”

“You would think they would come here to defend a little bit more,” he said, when asked how he thought Iraq would come to play. “Iraq is a good team; we can-t underestimate them, because they have some really good players as well.”