Socceroo Giannou determined to play his part
Al Ain: Socceroos striker Apostolos Giannou says he is primed and ready for action despite only receiving a last-minute call-up to join Graham Arnold’s Australia squad for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
The Cyprus-based forward was drafted in as a replacement for Martin Boyle, who failed to shake off a knee injury sustained in Australia’s 5-0 friendly win over Oman on Sunday, and is hoping to take his good form at club level into the continental championship.
“I’m really happy to be here, it was a really nice start of the year for me,” he said. “On the first of the year I got the call-up and I'm very happy and looking forward to being back with the boys and giving everything I have for the team.
“I feel good, been doing well this year. I’m ready whenever I’m needed to try to help the team that have been set out.”
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Giannou joins the defending champions after originally missing out on the final squad, even though he has featured for the Socceroos since Arnold took over as head coach following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
He scored in a 4-0 win over Kuwait in a friendly in October but was not a part of the squad that played against Lebanon and Korea Republic on home soil in November.
He has been in encouraging form at club level, however, scoring three times in this season’s UEFA Europa League for AEK Larnaca.
“It’s not easy to make choices and I understand that,” he said of his initial exclusion from the squad. “The most important thing is that when I’m needed I’m there and the boss knows that. I’m just happy he chose me for the selection.
“I’m just waiting for the chance whenever I’m needed. I know how Arnie wants to play and I know the style of play that the team has been playing the last few months and I’m ready.”
Australia kick off the defence of their title at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium against Jordan on Sunday and Giannou is confident he and his teammates will be primed for action in their Group B opener.
“Everyone’s positive,” he said. “There’s a good group of players here and we’re just focused on the next game, we’re not really focused on anything else. We’re just trying to be ready for the game on Sunday.
“We know Jordan have strengths but the main focus is on us. We’re just focused on how we’re going to play and how we’re going to make the most of our chances and that’s what we’re looking at.”
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