Ruka lands and targets derby debut

Nikita Rukavytsya says Western Sydney Wanderers FC’s huge ambition and the quality of coaching staff was the reason he chose the club to help re-launch his career.

The 27-year-old striker touched down in Sydney on Wednesday morning after joining the Wanderers on a one-year deal from German club Mainz FC.

Originally from Perth and starting his career at the Glory, Kenny Lowe’s side were thought to be favourite to snare Rukavytsya’s signature but he opted to link up with Tony Popovic in Sydney.

“It’s a great club. I’ve followed the league for the last couple of years and the teams been doing great and obviously now they are in the final of the Asian Champions League and its very good for Australian sport,” Rukavytsya told reporters on his arrival at Sydney International Airport.

“They are a very ambitious club, have a good coach and all the coaching staff are at the same level as I am.

“It’s very good for me to keep improving my game and improve as a player. I make choices on what’s best for my career.

“I spoke with Popa a few times and he got me really interested.”

Rukavytsya admitted his first preference was to remain in Europe but believes coming home to the Wanderers is the perfect place to show potential suitors he still has something to offer abroad.

“I still want to go back to Europe. That’s my plan…I’m pretty young and coming back to Australia wasn’t on my radar,” he said.

“At the moment I haven’t been playing regular football for some time so I just want to get that playing feeling again and I think it’s a great club to do that.”

Despite not figuring at all in the Bundesliga this season, Rukavytsya says he’s in “good shape” and hopes to be in the squad for Saturday night’s near-sold out Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium.

He will have a light session with Wanderers coaching staff on Wednesday afternoon before joining in full training with the rest of the squad on Thursday.

“It’s a big game and I always want to be involved in these games,” Rukavytsya said of playing against Sydney FC.

“That’s why I play football to play as much as possible. I heard (the derby) is pretty big and a lot of people are coming, about 40,000 come to the games and obviously it’s a Sydney derby so it must be big.”

Rukavytsya also hopes performing in the Hyundai A-League can help kick-start his international career ahead of January’s Asian Cup.

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