Burns means business ahead of Greece clash

People watching might call these games against Greece “friendlies”, but the Australia players themselves know the truth and they would never approach a match like that. There is simply too much at stake, with places in the team for upcoming World Cup qualifying matches on the line.

Nathan Burns

Source: Getty Images

The physical nature of the game the Socceroos won 1-0 over Greece at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night was evidence of what these games mean for the players and it is expected to be similarly competitive when they play again at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.

“We’re building as a team so it doesn’t matter who we play, we need to keep pushing our style, and the more games you get with these players the more in sync you are with them,” attacker Nathan Burns told The World Game.


“We have a system and we know where each other is going to be on the field, so with more games it just becomes more natural and I think there are so many players in our squad we’ve all got something to prove.

“We all want to be starting and Ange (Postecoglou, the coach) has shown there are so many players he can bring in. Everyone wants to be involved in this journey, so while some people call it a friendly game it’s not that way for us – we’re trying to hold our spots.”

Burns started the game on Saturday and played 72 minutes before being substituted. Postecoglou is trying to give as many players as possible in the 23-man squad decent game-time across the two games, so it remains to be seen whether Burns plays a part in Melbourne.

He has come back from Japan for this two-game schedule. It is very competitive for him over there as well, playing in a big squad at the FC Tokyo club that competes in the J-League, two cup competitions and the AFC Champions League.

FC Tokyo was recently eliminated in the round of 16 stage in the ACL.

“I’m enjoying it in Japan,” Burns said. “I’m getting some pretty regular game-time. I obviously want to do a lot better and really make a name for myself in Japan, but it takes time and I’m gradually getting better.

“We play a bit of rotation. Having 40-odd games in the league, plus two cups and the ACL, it’s hard to say what our best starting line-up is, because we do rotate a lot just due to the sheer number of games and the heat and conditions we play in.

“We were unlucky not to go through to the final eight in the Champions League. We lost in the last minute to a team from China, Shanghai SIPG, in the second leg and that put us out. We were disappointed in that, but now it’s over we can focus on the league.

“We’re mid-table, but it’s hard to do both the league and the Champions League at the same time. The J-League is so competitive that one small disadvantage makes it hard to overcome, but now we can just concentrate on the J-League and try to climb up the ladder.

“If we had made it through to the last eight of the Champions League we would have been a real chance of winning it. It’s a very open competition this year and we would have had a good crack, I reckon.”

Burns said the experience of both living in and playing football in Japan was amazing.

“The lifestyle is fantastic and I love Tokyo,” he said. “I live a little bit out in the suburbs of Tokyo and it’s really quiet where I am. I’m about 30 minutes away from the city on the train. If I’m going to training I’ll drive, but if I’m going into the city I’ll take the train. It’s much easier that way.

“It’s an amazing city and everyone who has been there will say that. It’s just an awesome place to live and my teammates are really quality players. There’s so much quality in our squad and every day I’m pushing myself.

“I enjoy the challenge because we have a massive squad. There’s a lot of competition, so you really have to fight for your spot.”

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4 min read
Published 6 June 2016 at 12:38pm
By Greg Prichard