Socceroos: Jamie Maclaren ready to fire at World Cup
A World Cup afterthought four years ago, Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren is determined to do more than just make up the numbers at Qatar 2022.
Seven goals from 10 appearances in the Socceroos’ successful qualifying campaign for this year’s World Cup has the 29-year-old Melbourne City marksman more than confident in his ability to lead Australia’s forward line when the tournament kicks off in November.
However, it was a different story in 2018 under then Socceroos coach, Dutchman Bert van Marwijk.
Maclaren was initially left out of the Socceroos preliminary squad for the tournament in Russia and went on holiday in Dubai.
However. concerns with the fitness of attacker Tomi Juric led to Maclaren being summonsed off the beach and into Socceroos camp, from where he was chosen in Australia’s 23-man tournament squad.
However, he was confined to the bench and given no game time for the Socceroos’ three Group C matches against France, Denmark and Peru.
“I remember the phone call being cut and then obviously then finding out that you got to come back in and you’re almost on trial, and that drove within me to have that motivation and hunger to go in and really show that I wanted to be in that 2018 World Cup squad,” Maclaren said.
“I got picked in the end and the feelings, you can’t explain. You grew up as a kid wanting to go to a World Cup and to say you’ve been to one is great, but I’ve felt more involved in this campaign.
“For me, it’s about kicking on.”
Maclaren said Socceroos coach Graham Arnold’s “faith” and “belief” in him gave him confidence he would do more than warm the bench in Qatar, provided he took form into the World Cup.
“(Arnold) has said to me ‘if you score goals you’ll be in my team, whether that’s coming off the bench or starting games’.
“I’ve just got to have the mentality that whenever I set foot on the pitch, whether it’s from the start or the end, to give my all,
“It’s always an honour, You fight to get picked, you don’t just click your fingers and surprisingly get picked in the national team. You’ve got to earn those call-ups and I’m no different.”
The former Brisbane Roar goalscoring machine will return to his old home ground, Suncorp Stadium, on Thursday night when the Socceroos host New Zealand in the first of a two-match series between the trans-Tasman rivals.
“I’ve had some very good moments at Suncorp Stadium,” Maclaren said.
“We love playing in front of our home fans. We haven’t had the luxury of doing that (often) in the last couple of years. When you do get that (chance), you don’t take it for granted.”