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Soccer-Brazil ticket an object of desire for Socceroo Franjic

Reuters

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY, May 15 (Reuters) - The words "You Imagine What You Desire" are emblazoned in lights above the doors of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Arts, where Australia's preliminary World Cup squad was announced this week.

Like hundreds of other professional footballers around the world - some much better known, many others as unheralded as he is - what Australia defender Ivan Franjic desires most at the moment is a seat on an aeroplane to Brazil.

He took the first step towards that dream when he was among the 30 names read out by coach Ange Postecoglou on Wednesday and hopes to seal his place in the final 23-man squad at a 10-day training camp north of Sydney this week.

"It's definitely exciting," the 26-year-old told Reuters after the announcement.

"Obviously there are still seven to be cut and everybody will be coming to camp trying to impress the boss and make sure they get picked so it won't be easy.

"But it's always important to have self-belief, if you don't believe in yourself, no one else is going to."

Despite having won just seven caps, Postecoglou's overhaul of the Australia squad means Franjic is likely to be on board when the Socceroos leave Sydney for the World Cup on May 28.

Grouped with world champions Spain, 2010 runners-up the Netherlands as well as Chile in the opening round, the Socceroos have been written off by all but the most optimistic of Australians.

The thought of a David Silva or Robin van Persie bearing down on him with the ball at his feet does not intimidate Franjic, however, and he thinks Australia could cause an upset or two.

"That's the Australian spirit, we believe we can win every game no matter who we play against," said Franjic.

"That's what we'll be taking to Brazil, at the end of the day it's eleven against eleven and everything is equal.

"The ball's round and come that first game we'll be surprising a few countries."

Franjic knows all about fighting for what he wants.

SOCCER AND CARPENTRY

Five years ago, he was playing in the semi-professional Victorian Premier League and getting up at 5 a.m. every day to fit in his training as well as his day job as a carpenter.

He got his chance in the A-League as a six-week injury replacement with the Brisbane Roar in 2009 and has never looked back, helping the Queensland side to three of the last four Australian titles.

An industrious player with a good engine who enjoys getting forward, Franjic made his international debut in December 2012 under Postecoglou's predecessor Holger Osieck.

Franjic now plays in midfield for his club but reverts to right back for his country and is likely to contend with Luke Wilkshire for the position in Brazil.

Wilkshire is one of the last surviving members of the golden generation that got Australia to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, many of his former team mates having been ushered into retirement after Postecoglou's appointment.

That leaves Australia with an inexperienced squad for Brazil but Franjic believes a new golden generation might just be emerging.

"We've got a lot of young boys, 20, 21, trying to get better and the boys like Timmy Cahill, Josh Kennedy, Wilkshire will be teaching the young boys, telling them about their experiences," he said.

"In four or five years time, these young boys will be exceptional."

And in Postecoglou, who was in charge when Brisbane won the 2011 and 2012 A-League titles, Franjic believes Australia have the right man in place to help that younger generation emerge.

"Knowing Ange from his time at the Roar, he likes to play possession-based football and attacking football," he said.

"He's a great coach all around and he knows how to get the best out of players. I learned a lot from him when he was in Brisbane, he helped me take my career to another level." (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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