Socceroo defender Trent Sainsbury is confident team-mate Ivan Franjic will be fit for Saturday night’s Asian Cup final but is ready to fill-in at right-back if the Torpedo Moscow man is ruled out.
In the only sour note to Australia’s 2-0 semi-final win over UAE on Tuesday night, Franjic ended the match barely able to jog after suffering a late hip injury.
Franjic played out the match – mostly due to the fact Ange Postecoglou had already made his three substitutions – but switched to the wing in the dying minutes to reduce the positional danger of an injured player.
Having played all five matches of the Socceroos run to the final, Franjic would be a huge loss if unavailable meaning either Sainsbury or midfielder Mark Milligan would need to be shifted to fill the hole.
“I’ve played there a few times for the (Central Coast) Mariners and once in pre-season for my club (PEC) Zwolle,” Sainsbury told reporters on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t bother me, I’ll just have to adjust and do what the coaches tell me.
“You can put me in goal if you want to I’m not fussed. I’ll go out there and do the job I’m told.”
Franjic is likely to learn the full extent of the injury on Thursday, with Postecoglou to give the defender right up until kick-off to prove his fitness.
The injury worry aside, the Socceroos are in high spirits after winning through to back-to-back Asian Cup finals.
Korea Republic, the team they lost to in the group stage just over a week ago, is the last team standing between the side and their first major piece of silverware.
While aware of the challenge ahead, Sainsbury believes the Socceroos are a much better team now than the one that lost 1-0 in Brisbane.
“We’re more confident in each other’s ability. At the start it may have been a few people hesitant to play certain balls but now everyone knows what each other is capable of,” he said.
“It’s all about confidence for this team now. A clean sheet last night is the perfect breeding ground for us to go on and do better things.”
A photo posted by Trent Sainsbury (@trentsainsbury) on Jan 27, 2015 at 6:10am PST
Sainsbury was a major factor in the Socceroos' semi-final triumph, scoring the opener inside three minutes for his maiden goal in the Green and Gold.
“To be honest I was trying to stay as calm as I could,” Sainsbury said when asked his feelings after the ball hit the back of the net.
“My first goal with the Mariners I got a little bit too excited and five minutes later I started cramping. I just remember trying to stay calm and focus on the game.
“It’s about time [I scored one]. We’ve been working on [set-pieces] at training and I’ve been getting my head on a few but to get it in a game and in such an important match is a pretty good feeling.”
It’s not just the results that has been the most impressive run through the tournament but the style of football the side has been playing to get there.
The aggressive, attacking approach has the Socceroos not only as the highest scorers at the tournament but with 10 different names on the score-sheet.
“It’s the way I like to play, I’m at a club in Holland that plays that sort of football and Ange is breeding that confidence in the boys,” Sainsbury said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re facing Korea or Brazil it’s just a name and they’re just humans as well and can be beaten.
“The boys have taken that on board and it’s starting to show in our football.”
The Socceroos will face Korea Republic in the AFC Asian Cup Final at Stadium Australia on Saturday 31 January (8.00pm local kick off). Click here to purchase tickets.
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