We will rise to the challenge says Zullo

Queensland Roar’s exciting winger Michael Zullo believes this squad of players will rise to the challenge against Kuwait on Thursday night and prove the standard of the Hyundai A-League is strong.

Queensland Roar-s exciting winger Michael Zullo believes this squad of players will rise to the challenge against Kuwait on Thursday night and prove the standard of the Hyundai A-League is strong.

After holding Indonesia to a 0-0 draw in Jakarta six weeks ago, Zullo knows that the expectations are much higher to win the match against Kuwait at Canberra Stadium and he has no doubts this squad can achieve just that.

And contrary to what his Roar and Australian captain for this Asian Cup qualifier Craig Moore said upon arriving in camp, Zullo believes each player in the 21-man squad has his own small point to prove.

“We all know that people are looking at us and people not involved in football here in Australia, will be looking at this game to show that the A-League isn-t up to standard,” he said when asked if this is the chance for the A-League players to show they can play at this level.

“Obviously we need to play for ourselves, play for our own pride, but obviously we are wearing the Australian jersey; it-s a massive privilege and we all realise what it-s going to take to win on Thursday night.

“We are all really up for it.”

“Obviously Pim (Verbeek) is used to dealing with the overseas boys, but we need to kind of step up and show we are nor far off there. Wearing the Socceroos jersey is a privilege and we need to show that we are worthy of it.”

Asked if that meant putting on a show for the Canberra crowd, the confident young Queenslander believed it was more important they do what Pim wants first in order to get the three points.

“This is our chance, not to really put on a show, but just to get the result.

“If we can do that playing entertaining football, that-s what we all love to do, but the main thing is qualifying for the Asian Cup and show Pim and everyone else that we can do a job when we asked to.”

So is there any added pressure on the team win?

“I don-t think there is a lot of pressure; I think it-s just we always knew we would have to win at home.

“Obviously we just have to go out and win the game on Thursday night.”

The 20-year-old has been one of the driving forces behind Queensland-s excellent season and his willingness to take opposition defenders on with his speed and skill has won him many admirers this season.

Zullo himself though has no expectations of earning a starting berth in the side, but with the withdrawal of the Scott Jamieson, Verbeek might look to put Dean Heffernan back to his more accustomed role at left fullback, which could see Zullo earn a place on the left side of midfield.

“We haven-t done any shape yet at training, that will probably be this afternoon at training, which will give us a better indication (of the starting line-up).

“Being one of the younger boys I am really expecting too much at this camp, but obviously it would be a big deal if I can get on the park and starting would be amazing.”

One aspect of his game that he and his coach at Queensland Roar Frank Farina, would love to improve on, is his finishing in front of goal. Known more as creator, rather than a finisher, Zullo is keen to work on that aspect of his game in the off-season and become a regular goalscorer.

“That one thing I have really been disappointed with this season, is that I haven-t capitalised on the few good chances I had and not get on the scoresheet as often as I would like to.

“Obviously during this off-season I really want to work on my finishing and I think if I can get that part right I think I can make a lot more of an impact then I have been.”

For the Socceroos though, Zullo has no doubts there are plenty of goalscoring options against Kuwait, even with the loss of Danny Allsopp.

“I think we-ve got a lot of players in the side that can score goals,” he said rather emphatically. “Obviously Danny Allsopp is out with a facial injury, but Matty Simon has been playing well; Archie Thompson is always a big threat and Mitch (Nichols) has come in and he-s done very well for us in the last few weeks.

“So there is a lot places where we can score goals from.”

One thing that Zullo believes will definitely help his teams cause, is the fact the preparation will be so much better and the advantage of a large and parochial home crowd, which he hopes will be at Canberra Stadium.

“One of the main differences between here and Indonesia was obviously the major one - travel. Here we-ve only had a couple of hour flights, as opposed to spending a whole day in transit.

“Obviously the weather is a lot different; at the moment its pretty cool here and obviously we are playing in Australia; playing in front of our own fans, which is obviously a massive difference.”