How unknown gem Karacic was unearthed for Caltex Socceroos

Who is Fran Karacic?

There would have been more than a few Caltex Socceroos fans who muttered those words after Bert van Marwijk named his 32-man preliminary squad ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Alongside Hyundai A-League youngster Daniel Arzani and four returning names, Karacic was a notable new inclusion to van Marwijk's list which will be cut down further next week before the team heads to Turkey.

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The 21-year-old has been unearthed by assistant coach Ante Milicic, who was also instrumental in the call-up of defender Aleksandar Susnjar who has again been included by van Marwijk.


Karacic now looms as a new option for van Marwijk at right back – a position he admitted has been a problem for the national team in recent times.

“I haven’t seen him myself. The first information has come from Ante Milicic,” explained van Marwijk on Monday.

“He’s playing in the Croatia Under-21s – Croatia is a good football nation and they’re also going to the World Cup.

“He is already the captain of his team and he’s playing in the highest division in Croatia.”

Karacic has already racked up 23 appearances this season for club side Lokomotiva Zagreb who sit sixth in the Croatian 1st Division with three games still to play.

That haul of appearance in 2017/18 means the youngster has played more than 50 games for the club after breaking into the first team two seasons ago.

With Karacic’s father holding an Australian passport, the 185cm defender is eligible to play for the Caltex Socceroos despite already playing eight times for Croatia’s Under-21 side, scoring two goals in the process.

It is this kind of information unearthed by Milicic which led to van Marwijk’s fellow assistant coach Roel Coumans heading to Zagreb to assess the young talent.

“Because of the information of Ante, my assistant Roel Coumans has already gone twice to Croatia to watch him,” van Marwijk said.

“He plays only as a right back and we don’t have many players who play in that position. I’ve already taken [Josh] Brillante because maybe he can play there as well.

Karacic in action
Fran Karacic in action for Croatia Under-21 (Source: @NKLokomotiva)

“It’s a position we’ve discussed a lot already and when somebody of the technical staff gives me the information of this player playing in Croatia and also has an Australian passport and plays right back at a certain level, it can be interesting for us.

Van Marwijk added: “I want to bring him in and see him so we will now discuss the next few weeks when we go back to 26 or 27 players about whether we include him.

“We will use this time from now until the nomination of the 26 players to get a lot of information [on the player].”