Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:00 AM
Ivan Franjic plays in midfield for Brisbane Roar, but at right back for the Socceroos. For Franjic, it doesn’t matter, as long as he’s on the park.
Franjic made his name in the A-League for Brisbane Roar, where he was signed ion a short-term contract in August 2009, as an injury replacement for Andrew Packer.
Franjic’s forward raids from right-back and non-stop energy soon convinced Roar to sign him to a permanent contract and he has since made over 100 appearances for the side currently atop the A-League.
Under Ange Postecoglou, Franjic was first choice right-back, but under Mike Mulvey he has been recast as a dynamic, box-to-box midfielder.
Franjic sees his new-found versatility as a positive, rather than a point of confusion.
“It has definitely helped me,” Franjic said.
“Versatility helps a lot. Especially for a coach, if they can put you in various positions. I’ve enjoyed playing there (in midfield).”
Postecoglou’s first match in charge of the Socceroos was the 1-0 win against Costa Rica, and it was no surprise to see Franjic involved.
The advantage of their previous relationship at Brisbane Roar, is familiarity.
“He knows me from our time at Brisbane,” Franjic said.
“We worked together for two and a half years, so he knows my strengths and weaknesses, and what I’m capable of.
“It helps a lot, but it’s also good for me as I know how he works.”
Franjic played 90 minutes against Costa Rica and was one of the Socceroos’ best players as the new era got underway. He played at right back, rather than the midfield position he has played for Roar this season.
He did, however, return to fullback in Roar’s 2-5 win over Sydney FC and Franjic said that he is happy changing positions, whether it be for the national team or for his club.
“I’ve been playing at fullback for five or six years, I feel comfortable there so it comes quite naturally,” Franjic said.
“I hope playing in midfield doesn’t have any effect (on national selection).
“I played at fullback on the weekend and I’m lucky that I can play in various positions.”
Franjic’s ability to play more than one position at a very high level, and Postecoglou’s existing knowledge of his talents, mean that he is a firm favourite to be on the plane to Brazil at the end of the season.
The 26-year-old insists that he is just focusing on his job at Roar and that whatever will be, will be.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing Brisbane,” he said.
“I have to show consistency, play 90 minutes, get in the right positions, defend and attack well, whether I’m playing fullback or midfield.”
One big addition to Franjic’s game is goals. Always capable of the spectacular, he is now a regular on the score sheet and that is something Postecoglou will have his eye on.
“Every player likes to score,” Franjic insisted.
“It’s something I’ve been practising a lot.
“Hopefully it can continue for the season and at the end of it, Brisbane Roar are champions.”
That, and the prospect of a place at the FIFA World Cup, is motivation enough for the talented Franjic, who with just six caps is at the start of what could be a prosperous international career.