Franjic: Socceroos can win Asian Cup

Socceroo defender Ivan Franjic says the belief is strong within the national team that Australia can win the Asian Cup despite some poor results.

The Socceroos went down 2-1 to Japan last month and were beaten 1-0 by Qatar in the match before that.

Australia has now won just one of its past 11 game under Ange Postecoglou, who will on Monday announce a preliminary squad for the continental event.

But Franjic, who recently returned to the national team set-up for the Qatar friendly after a long lay-off with injury, remains confident about the upcoming tournament.

“I believe we can win it and all the boys do in camp,” he told FourFourTwo.

“That’s the attitude we’re taking into the Asian Cup because if we don’t think we can win it then there’s no point in really going there to play it.

“We’ve played 10 or 11 games on the road and every time we’ve played at home we’ve got a good record so it’s definitely going to help us. It’s always challenging playing away from home but no we’re going to be at home so there’s no excuses at all.”

Australia kicks off its Asian Cup campaign against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9. Franjic had been missing from the Socceroos since the match against Chile during the World Cup after he injured his hamstring in the second half.

He made his return to international duties with 25 minutes off the bench against Qatar in October.

“It’s always good to put on the green and gold and represent your country, as a kid I always dreamed of that,” Franjic said.

“When I came back against Qatar it was worth the long rehab to again put on the green and gold.”

Franjic played the full game against Japan in November despite being yet to regain his full-match fitness.

“It was good to get 90 minutes under my belt,” he said.

“The first half was excellent, we played well. The second half Japan came out and really pressed us and it was disappointing to go a couple of goals down, especially from a set-piece.

“But we came home strong and the positive signs are there. But come Asian Cup there’s no room for errors anymore. We have to be ready and firing. We can’t have these lapses of concentration.”

Franjic left Brisbane Roar in August to join Russian Premier League outfit FC Torpedo Moscow on a three-year deal. The fullback has only made three out of a possible 16 appearances for his new club, as he recovered from injury and Torpedo struggles for form. Currently, the Black-Whites are just two points from bottom with two wins, four draws and nine losses.

“When I first came over I was injured, so it’s been a very slow start, its taken a while to get back to fitness,” Franjic said.

“I got back into the team and started to play a few games and then at the end of that week the coach got sacked, so it was a fresh start with the new coach. So I pretty much had to start all over again here.”

All three of Franjic’s appearances for Torpedo Moscow have come in the unfamiliar position of left back.

“It was something unusual as I’d never played there before,” he admitted.

“Definitely a different experience.”

Despite the difficult start, the 27-year believes he is becoming a better player in Russia.

“It hasn’t been easy here,” Franjic said.

“Obviously the goal is to avoid relegation and we’ll keep fighting until the end. We’ll have the winter break and have a good pre-season and hopefully pick up a lot of points.

“The league’s very strong. All the boys are very athletic and strong, and great technically. I’ve had to change my game a bit but I think it’s really helped my game and improved it.”