Australia is on the hunt for a new generation of strikers and coach Ange Postecoglou has turned to Apostolos Giannou for this month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Postecoglou is looking forward to the chance to blood Giannou, who played for the Socceroos coach in underage Australian squads before flirting with the country of his birth, Greece.
The 26-year-old has since moved from the Greek league, where he flourished, to the Chinese Super League and Postecoglou has him pinned as a long-term replacement for the Socceroos’ all-time leading goal-scorer Tim Cahill.
The Socceroos boss believes with the addition of Apostolos Giannou he has the strongest attacking Socceroos squad in some time.
Giannou moved to Melbourne as a child and started his football career as a junior with Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne before moving to Greece to play in 2007.
“It was only recently, the last few months, that through the work of his representatives [at FIA Sports Management] and Apo himself, we made some further investigation, we got clearance from FIFA that he’s still eligible,” Postecoglou said.
“I flew to Greece and had a chat to him and I’m really pleased to bring him in. I think he really adds something to us.
“Of course, he gets an opportunity at international level.
“He’s already had some experience at that level, playing a game with Greece but also at underage level, and he plays in a part of the park where we still looking to create some depth, especially in those central attacking areas.”
Postecoglou says that Giannou’s established record in a competitive European league makes him an exciting prospect.
“He has got a pedigree, he has been playing in the Greek first division for a number of years now. He was selected in the last Greece squad, which shows you he has got consistency and form.
“He has scored goals fairly regularly in a tough league, I know the Greek first division very well – it is a very defensive league and the fact that he has got double digits [goals] in the last couple of years is a credit to him.
“He is a bit of a different central striker to Timmy. He can hold the ball up and is fairly mobile, but just like Timmy [Cahill] he’s a very good finisher. It’s about bringing him in and giving him an understanding of the way we do things, hopefully he adapts to that. He certainly deserves an opportunity on form.”
Giannou was one of three uncapped players included in the group, alongside young full-backs Jason Geria from Melbourne Victory and Alex Gersbach, late of Sydney FC but now of Norwegian club Rosenborg.
“He was born in Greece like me, came to Australia, his parents obviously came here to give opportunities to their kids and he’s making the most of it,” Postecoglou said.
“The beauty of it is he wants to play for Australia. It’s a fantastic story.”
The Caltex Socceroos matches against Tajikistan (Adelaide) and Jordan (Sydney) will be broadcast exclusively LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on a one hour delay on SBS.
Caltex Socceroo 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Match Details
Australia v Tajikistan
24 March 2016
Kick off 7.30pm (8pm AEDT)
Australia v Jordan
29 March 2016
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
8pm kick off (AEDT)
© 2016 FIA Sports Management | This article was created using quotes and text from The Age, The World Game, Fox Sports and ESPN.