Qantas Socceroos defender Robbie Cornthwaite has labelled the coming period of FIFA World Cup qualifiers the 'biggest three weeks of my career'
Motivation is hardly an issue for the Qantas Socceroos ahead of next month's crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with Robbie Cornthwaite labeling the coming period the 'biggest three weeks of my career'.
The Korea-based defender exemplified the mood in the Qantas Socceroo camp when outlining his excitement at what awaits he and his teammates in the coming weeks.
"Some boys are trying to get to their first FIFA World Cup and some boys are trying to get to their third," said Cornthwaite, who since making an unexpected appearance in Korea last September has quickly accumulated three goals in six international appearances.
“We-re all working towards the same goal and it-s just a huge occasion.
“I-m sure at the end of these three weeks we-re going to be celebrating qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.”
A relative newcomer to the national team set up, Cornthwaite's rise to prominence in green and gold has unfortunately coincided with a dip in opportunities at club level, where the former Adelaide United defender has struggled for game time with Chunnam Dragons recently.
With Sasa Ogenenovski and Lucas Neill recalled for Tuesday's clash, competition for Cornthwaite's incumbency in central defence will be intense, but the 27-year-old is relishing the challenge.
"All you can do, really, is put your best foot forward and, train well and try to show your keenness and enthusiasm and everything that you bring to the side," said Cornthwaite.
“I know there-s three matches and three weeks of training ahead, we-re going to need everyone on board.
“Hopefully throughout the time I-m going to get some minutes and I-m definitely looking forward to playing.”
Another player desperate to make an impression in Japan is Dutch-based left back Michael Zullo.
In the eyes of some, Zullo is a natural solution to the Qantas Socceroos' headaches at left back, though inconsistent game time at club level has seen the 24-year-old fail to earn a cap in two years.
"I don-t think there-s a person in this squad at the moment who doesn-t have that drive to qualify for the FIFA World Cup," said Zullo.
“Everyone-s on the same page, as far as, we all know that four years comes down to these three weeks and that-s a pretty huge thing to think about.
“I hope so (to have an opportunity to start an upcoming qualifier), it-s quite open there-s not really one person that sticks out and clearly is playing left back.
“I think whoever has played there has done quite well, I hope that I can contribute in some way, we-ll have to wait and see.”
The Qantas Socceroos- FIFA World Cup qualification campaign continues on Tuesday, 4 June at Saitama Stadium, where they will meet the challenge of Japan. Kick off is at 7.30pm local time (8.30pm AEST).
The Qantas Socceroos will conclude the current stage of Asian qualifiers upon their return home, firstly to face Jordan at Melbourne-s Docklands Stadium on Tuesday, 11 June. Kick off is at 7pm AEST.
Finally, the Qantas Socceroos will host Iraq at Sydney-s Stadium Australia on Tuesday, 18 June. Kick off is at 7.30pm AEST.