NEW Melbourne Heart signing Michael Mifsud is thrilled by the chance to play in Australia - but will miss the season-opener against rivals Melbourne Victory.
With the first round of the 2013-14 season clashing with international fixtures, Mifsud will have to wait an extra week to make his A-League debut.
The Maltese international is sitting on 99 caps, with his 100th set to come against the Czech Republic the night before the Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium.
Upon his return the following week he will likely make an appearance for Heart against the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park - becoming the first ever international with 100 or more caps to play in the A-League.
Mifsud said he was sad to miss out on the derby but the calendar clash meant it was unavoidable.
“It’s unfortunate for me that I’m going to miss the first game here and it’s going be a good game and good crowd,” said Mifsud. “But of course that’s football.
“It’s always an honour to play for the national team especially because it’s my 100th cap... I can’t miss that.”
Heart coach John Aloisi admitted he was disappointed to lose Mifsud for round one but insisted the club were aware of the issue when they signed him.
“It’s disappointing but we knew when we signed him that he has commitments with the national team,” said Aloisi.
“He’ll be making his 100th cap in his next game so we’re not going force him to stay. It’s going be the same for a few other teams.”
Mifsud was unveiled by Heart on Wednesday as the clubs 23rd and final signing of the off-season, not including injury-replacement Andrea Migliorini.
The striker revealed he knocked back a number of offers in Europe to play in the A-League because he “wanted another adventure”, but he’s not just here for a holiday.
“It was a good opportunity to come here with my family and enjoy the experience and enjoy Australia… and play good football,” said Mifsud.
“I’m here for work and I’m not here to relax. I know Australian football is doing well and it’s a good level so I need to work hard as well.
“I’m here of course to play football, help the team and show people what I’m capable of.”
Despite being dubbed the ‘Mosquito’ due to his short-stature nippy playing style, Mifsud will have no problem dealing with the physicality of the league.
“I’ve played in Norway which is quite physical and England is quite physical as well,” said Mifsud. “I am small but I’m quite strong as well.”
His new coach agreed.
“He’s quite strong even though he is small,” said Aloisi. “He not only played in the Championship but he’s also played in Norway where they’re big defenders and even Germany.
“When you’re playing at national team level you have to play against quite strong defenders as well.
“I’ve got no problems in him coming up against players like (Nikolai) Topor-Stanley or (Michael) Beauchamp…. I think he’ll do well in the A-League.”