Spiranovic eager to embrace World Cup test

Matthew Spiranovic is keen to face the best in Brazil. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Matthew Spiranovic is keen to face the best in Brazil. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


Central defender Matthew Spiranovic isn't fretting about the host of attacking threats at the World Cup and says the Socceroos need to embrace the tough challenge.

Capped 17 times, Spiranovic is the most experienced central defender in the provisional 30-man squad and looks certain to make the final party of 23.

He looms as a pivotal figure at the back, as Australia prepare to face three highly-rated nations in their group in Brazil - reigning champions Spain, 2010 runners-up the Netherlands and rising South American power Chile.

The three nations possess some of the most exciting and creative players in world football, but Spiranovic is excited rather than daunted about the task of trying to contain those stars.

"You look at all three squads, full of world class players, it's hard to pick out one," he said.

"That's why we play football; it's going to be an awesome challenge ahead.

"This team is full of youth, a lot of enthusiasm and everyone giving 110 per cent, so that holds us in good stead going over to Brazil.

"It's a great opportunity to show what we can do and surprise people.

"We're definitely going to be the underdogs going into these games, but that's something that we have to embrace and go out there and try and take it to them."

With long-time central defensive linchpin and former skipper Lucas Neill missing out, Spiranovic could well take on more of a leadership role.

He relished that prospect and stressed the Socceroos weren't short of leaders despite the youthful nature of their squad.

"It is a relatively young team but we still have a lot of leaders in this squad," Spiranovic said.

"If it means I have to take up that role then I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Returning to Australia and playing regularly for Western Sydney Wanderers has paid off handsomely for Spiranovic.

"I needed regular football, I needed to get back to full fitness and I needed to be in the right football environment," Spiranovic said.

"The Wanderers ticked all those boxes, so it's worked out well," added Spiranovic, who has just inked a new two-year deal with the club.

It's a pleasant change to 2010, when Spiranovic struggled for playing time in the lead-up to the World Cup in South Africa and didn't make the Australian squad.

That omission fuelled his desire to make the 2014 team. - AAP


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