Wanderers FC coach Tony Popovic has added some European flavour to his squad with the addition of Croatian players Dino Kresinger and Mateo Poljak.
Popovic expects the talented duo can make an impact for the A-League new boys once they get used to Australian conditions and their new teammates.
Popovic, himself with his own Croatian heritage, scouted and met with the players in Croatia and believes Kresinger (a striker) and Poljak (a defensive midfielder) can bring a lot to his squad.
“Dino is a striker and Mateo is a central midfielder, we’re very pleased to have them on board finally, they just arrived so we will help them settle in, get acclimatised and hopefully they will start full training soon,” Popovic said.
“Dino is someone we have monitored for a little, while, is a strong player, technically good, a hard-working team player and more importantly he is a goalscorer.
“We believe he will be a great addition to the club.
“Mateo is a youth international, like Dino, and he’s a product of Dynamo Zagreb and he has been on loan to their sister club in Zagreb, he is a good technical player who has high aspirations to be at the top and he sees this as a new challenge getting out of his comfort zone in Croatia.”
Bringing in Poljak means Popovic’s youth assault continues unabated and in Poljak, Reece Caira and Aaron Mooy he certainly has some talent, and one would hope the addition of Poljak will mean Mooy can focus more on attack, while Poljak controls the defensive side of the midfield.
Popovic was happy to have a good blend of experience and plenty of youth in the side, but also conceded both players despite their different levels of experience would need to take time to find their feet.
“I think we’re always looking for quality players and are big advocates of playing young talent and amongst the other players they will provide stiff competition for spots in there,” he said.
“I think they will need a little bit of time to adjust, but with seven weeks to go, we hope they can acclimatise to the conditions, the pitches here are different, the weather and so is the style of play.”
For Poljak it is that style that attracted him to Australia in the first place, a slightly built player, Poljak hopes the Hyundai A-League will help to improve his physicality, suggesting it might be what is missing from football, at home, in Croatia.
“I heard it is very physical a lot about strength and running, maybe in Croatia, these are the things that are missing in Croatia, the emphasis is more on technical football, maybe that is the main difference,” Poljak said.
At 22 coming away from Europe could be seen as a huge risk to his career, but Poljak believes it is just the opposite and that the move will make him a better footballer.
“This is a new club with big expectations and I like the idea of something new from the beginning, so I am very glad to be here.
“Maybe it is a risk, but I think you must take risks to accomplish something, this is one step forward in my career, I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t think it was.”
As for his older compatriot, he knows what is expected from him and that is to find the back of the net, like he has done for the better part of a decade in Croatia.
“When Tony was in Croatia he spoke with me and told me what he expected from me and what my position would be,” Kresinger said.
“My job is to score goals and I hope I will score many goals.”