Smeltz primed for the title fight

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It was fitting that veteran striker Shane Smeltz was one of several Sky Blues players chosen to model the club’s new Puma Football strip at Sydney Cove this week.

A new look for a fresh start, that comes with a whole lot of buzz for the upcoming A-League campaign. And no one among coach Graham Arnold's troops is more primed for the title fight than the 33-year-old marksman.

PICS: Sydney unveil new Puma kit

Having lost the Grand Final to Melbourne Victory – he put four past them during the season – the former Kiwi international is more fired up than ever to lift silverware.

“There is a lot of excitement about this (campaign),” Smeltz said. “Last year we had a really good season, and the feeling is we want to build on that.

“Add in the competitions like the Asian Champions League, and another FFA Cup run which is starting in a couple of weeks and it’s exciting times ahead.”

Sydney FC’s forward line will have a new look this season after the departures of Bernie Ibini, Mark Janko and Corey Gamiero .

But Smeltz denies that it’s lonely up front, especially with the recent addition of Slovakian International Filip Holosko.

“There are still plenty of us,” the World Cup goal scorer said.

“We have young George Blackwood and he’s coming back after a little bit of a shoulder issue – he’s a talent.

“Arnie’s certainly got options. He’s brought in another two quality foreign players, as well as quite a good number of young players that he’s already signed.

“We’ve got plenty of options in the front third. We don’t signal it out as particular positions, but we’ve got a number of boys that can play in a number of positions up in the front third.

“The squad’s looking very healthy and everyone can’t wait to just keep working hard in the preseason and hopefully the season won’t take too long to come around.”

Smeltz remains the second highest goal scorer in the A-League just shy of Victory's Archie Thompson.

Last season he played 21 games (12 of those coming off the bench) for eight goals and, while he would prefer to start, knows he can do a job when called upon.

“Nothing changes there, I want to play just as much as everyone else,” he said. “I’m used to playing and I want to play.

“Arnie’s made it clear that he wants depth in every position. With the players that he’s brought in and with the good young players that we have in the squad as well he’s got that.  

“He’s got the challenge of picking the best team that’s going to win each game, and I’m sure everyone is in the same boat and wants to play and will put their hand up.”

Smeltz added: “Whenever I was needed, whenever I played I was feeling good within myself, my body was in good shape, and I was able to perform.

“I think I did that whenever I was needed. And the same goes for this season. (I've got) the right mentality and every time I step out on the field I want to perform and nothing changes.”

PHOTO: Kevin Airs

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler