Wanderers' rising star excited by new challenge with national U-23 team

Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Keanu Baccus hopes his time with the Australian U-23 side in January will boost his burgeoning Hyundai A-League career even more. 

The 19-year-old showed his potential with a man-of-the-match display for Western Sydney Wanderers in their 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners last Saturday night in the A-League. 

And Baccus’ performances haven’t gone unnoticed, with the central midfielder named in Australia’s squad for January's AFC U23 Championships in China.

“I’m very happy. I’m grateful for being selected,” Baccus told www.socceroos.com.au.

“It is a huge honour. I get to play with the calibre of players that are picked so, hopefully, I can improve myself. It’s great to be playing alongside those players.”

Caltex Socceroos assistant coach Ante Milicic is in charge of the team, with the squad set to go into camp in early January to prepare for the tournament.

Baccus admitted he’s relishing the chance to work under Milicic and hopes to use the experience to help his development.  

“I’m expecting it to be very tough, high intensity. It’s high quality coaching with Ante [Milicic] ... so it’s going to be very good to get to train under him.

“I feel very honoured. Obviously, he’s been working with the first team [Socceroos] so he knows the calibre you need to be at and the standard, so it’ll be good to learn from him.

“I’m just trying to take it step by step and game by game. I’m trying to improve every game and help the team win if I can, not looking too far ahead. “

While suggesting he’s still getting used to the pace of the A-League, Baccus is happy with his progress and hopes to earn more first-team action as the season progresses.

“It’s very fast. It’s physical as everyone knows but I’m just happy to be coming up to pace with it.

“Hopefully I can keep playing, doing well and we can keep winning as a team.

“Definitely as a young boy I want to improve and just become the best that I can be.

"When I get back at the end of January, just to crack back into the squad would be good and to get as many minutes as I can.”