x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Milan Susak seeks something to shout about with Al Wasl

Well-travelled Australian ready to 'step up and provide an example for the young boys', writes John McAuley.

Milan Susak is unveiled as an Al Wasl player at Al Wasl Sports Club.
Milan Susak is unveiled as an Al Wasl player at Al Wasl Sports Club.

DUBAI // Milan Susak concedes much is expected of him at Al Wasl this season, but the Australian insists he will enjoy the added responsibility afforded by his latest club.

The central defender, 29, has spent the past few weeks getting acquainted with his new teammates, having transferred from Sepahan, the Iranian side, earlier this summer.

He is unlikely to be surprised by anything at Wasl; he has been employed at nine clubs since he made his professional debut for Sydney Olympic in 2001.

His past few years in football have been particularly successful: first, in 2010/11, he helped Brisbane Roar to both the A-League Premiership and Championship trophies. Then, last May, he was part of the Sepahan team who lifted the Hazfi Cup.

Yet Susak has been brought to Wasl as much for his experience as for his talent, as the club look to use his considerable expertise to guide their emergent side through the re-branded Arabian Gulf League.

"Of course, it's a very young squad, and I'm 29 now, so I've got to step up and provide an example for the young boys," Susak said. "I'm looking forward to doing that. But it doesn't really mean there's more pressure on me. I like to be loud, to give confidence to players and to be out there on the pitch helping them. It's been like that at my other clubs, so it'll be the same here."

Wasl have endured a troublesome few campaigns recently, finishing eighth in 2011/12 and then ninth last season.

The club's board, installed in April, has stressed that a long-term vision is in place, with a preference for young players from within the Zabeel Stadium to be promoted to the first team.

Susak, though, does not believe a reliance on budding talent and an ability to secure silverware are mutually exclusive.

"I hope we win something," said the defender, who has signed a three-year deal at Wasl. "It's a big club and they want to be successful this year, so I'm hoping I can contribute to that. We want to do something this year.

"You can see the hunger; the younger boys are trying to step up. If they show on the training pitch they can do it, then they're good enough to get a spot in the XI. It's been good so far."

Meanwhile, Rashid Essa, Wasl's midfielder, has again been linked with a move away from the club. The UAE national team player missed the latter half of last season because of a knee injury, but Wasll revealed in June they were open to a swap deal with Al Ain.

Reports yesterday claimed Essa would spurn a transfer to the Garden City as he prefers to remain in Dubai, although Al Ahli are also said to be interested.

However, Wasl see Essa as central to their development, especially as he returns to full fitness following surgery.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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