Antonis: Sky Blue star on the rise

It’s been a massive week for Terry Antonis who is walking testament to the saying good things comes in threes.

The Sydney FC midfielder scored a cracking opening goal that helped the Sky Blues defeat the Central Coast Mariners 2-0 on the weekend.

His stellar start to the season resulted in a Socceroos call up and put him in the running for the NAB Young player of the Year.

“It’s an exciting week for me getting all these things,” Antonis said after receiving the October nomination for the award.

“Probably being picked for the national team is at the top of the level, but getting all this stuff is an honour and I’m really happy.”

The 20-year-old was originally selected for the Socceroos squad to face Belgium and Saudi Arabia in September but had to pull out through injury.

He missed selection for the recent friendlies against the United Arab Emirates and Qatar but is a potential Asian Cup bolter after making the squad to play Japan later this month.

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou was full praise for Antonis’s recent A-League form and is keen to boost the young player’s international experience. 

“He’s certainly a player I rate very highly,” Postecoglou said at the squad announcement.

“He’s one who shows all the attributes of being a very good footballer and from our perspective, hopefully a very good international footballer.

“He’s had his challenges along the way. It hasn’t been smooth for him.

“I really like the fact he’s ploughed on from that and now he’s in a real good space, his body is in good shape and he’s at a good club with a good coach.

“You’re starting to see him now develop into a good footballer. Now I need to make sure he gets some international experience. Over the next few years we’ll give him that opportunity.” 

Antonis was elated by the Socceroos coach’s comments and says he is keen to link up with his teammates ahead of the November 18 match in Osaka.

“You get excited hearing that from the head coach of the national team,” he said.

“Just coming into the team – watching the Socceroos from when you are young and actually now training and playing with them is massive.”

Despite the accolades Antonis is keeping his feet firmly on the ground and hoping to steer clear of the injuries that blighted his progress for club and country over the years.

“I can improve heaps more and, touch wood, no injuries, no anything, and I can keep on going,” he added.

Sydney FC beat the Mariners in a confident display in the last round of the A -League.

And Antonis, who hit the post against Melbourne City in the Sky Blues’ opening game of the season, was on target on Sunday with a quality strike from long range.

“We practised that at training from the set piece and it came off in the game so I was really happy with that,” he said.

He admits the influence of Sydney coach Graham Arnold and head of strength and conditioning Andrew Clark has been a big part in his early season form.

“I had a good pre-season with Clarky looking after my body and Arnie helping me tactically and helping me on and off the field, it’s a great combination,” he said

The Sky Blues have equalled their best ever start to an A-League season with one draw and three wins and sit joint top of the A- League ladder on points.

But round five looks set to offer their sternest test yet, with Arnold’s men taking on Josep Gombau’s high-flying Reds who sit equal top along with Melbourne Victory.

Antonis is confident they can give Adelaide a run for their money on Friday night.

“We’ve got heaps of room where we can improve like every team, it’s still early in the season, we just got to keep going and going,” he said.

“They’re a tough side – we just have to play our game and treat it like a home game and go out there and give our best and go from there.”

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer check out Episode Two of his latest OZ Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.