Adelaide United’s strong representation in the Socceroos’ latest squad should give the Reds a much-needed confidence boost ahead of this Saturday’s Hyundai A-League grand final at Telstra Dome.
United enter the clash against Melbourne Victory rank outsiders having lost to Ernie Merrick’s boys on the past five occasions the two teams have met.
Their semi-final clashes against the Victory were the worst for the season and sparked some interesting post-match comments from their coach.
And while the South Australian side turned things around last weekend with a Preliminary Final win over Queensland, their confidence and belief must still be shaky against the premiers.
For this reason, news that Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Paul Reid, Robert Cornthwaite, Fabian Barbiero and Daniel Mullen have been picked for the national squad should remind the Reds they are still a side to be reckoned with.
The inclusion of Barbiero and Mullen were the biggest selection surprises in the squad with the duo still finding their way in the Hyundai A-League system.
Barbiero has put in some solid performances this season but his match-winning wonder strike against the Roar at the weekend definitely put him under the spotlight.
The 24-year-old admits his goal may have caught the eyes of selectors.
“It could’ve, I’d say it would’ve, but obviously the hard work week in, week out has made the opportunity arise,” he said.
“I’ve just been concentrating on playing regularly, playing week in and week out, and consistently, and just keep pushing myself.”
Barbiero said the players’ selection in the national side did buoy the spirits of the team.
“It shows the quality of our side. For the boys to reach the grand final and obviously the ACL final as well. We’ve got a good bunch of lads,” he said.
While surprised by his call up, Barbiero had admitted he had strived to become a better player.
“I’d like to thank the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play and they pulled me aside and got me working on things I need to improve on my game,” he said.
“After training I stay back and work on those things and it pays off in the end.”
Fellow Socceroos squad member Mullen was ‘stoked’ to get the phone call from coach Pim Verbeek.
“It’s a massive honour to represent my country at the senior level. I’ve done it at the youth level before that, in the 20s, but a massive honour,” he said.
“Since I was a little boy it’s been a massive goal for me to represent my country, so hopefully I can take the next step and do well there as well.”
“If you had told me at the start of the year that I’d be playing in an A-League grand final and getting myself a Socceroos call-up I wouldn’t have believed it.”
While keen to don the green and gold shirt for Australia, Mullen said he was still focused on finishing the season off well with the Reds.
“My main priority at the moment is the A-League final this Saturday, it’s a massive game for us and this is what we’ve been working towards for the whole year so that’s my main priority and then it’s the focus on the camp,” he said.
“I think we’ve conceded the least goals all season and I think that’s a massive point for us.”