Late bloomer Garcia hoping dream year gets better
Qantas Socceroos winger Richard Garcia is hoping to round out an "eye opening" season by helping Australia seal their World Cup qualification against Qatar.
DUBAI, June 1 AAP - Qantas Socceroos winger Richard Garcia is hoping to round out an "eye opening" season by helping Australia seal their World Cup qualification against Qatar.
Garcia is part of an extended squad that is assembling in Dubai this week ahead of Sunday morning's (AEST) match in Doha, where the Qantas Socceroos need only a point to clinch qualification.
The 27-year-old earned his first international start in the 2-0 win over Uzbekistan in April and is in contention to start again with speculation Tim Cahill will be rested.
It would be a fine end to a breakthrough season for Garcia, who made 23 appearances as newly-promoted Hull City just managed to secure survival in the English Premier League for another year.
"At the start of the season I sort of said I'll take whatever I can get," Garcia said.
"But for me it's been an eye-opener of a season to know that I can play at that level with ease.
"It's such a great honour to be called into the national squad and to play for your country so this season's been fantastic for me.
"Hopefully next season I'll be able to improve on that even more."
Hull managed to finished just a point outside the drop zone after making a bright start to the year, and Garcia admitted they would face an ever bigger challenge in staying up again next season.
"The second year is always going to be a lot harder because teams probably know what you're about a bit more," Garcia said.
Garcia said he would be more than ready if called upon by coach Pim Verbeek again and admitted he'd love to play in the game that could take Australia to consecutive World Cups for the first time.
But he said the Qantas Socceroos had to approach the match just like any other game.
"We all know the importance of the game, but we've just got to approach it as a normal game and try and get the three points," he said.
A handful of players are still yet to arrive in Dubai including midfielder Mark Bresciano and Nuremburg pair Dario Vidisic and Matthew Spiranovic, whose side won promotion back into Germany's top flight on Sunday.
Cahill is expected to arrive in on Tuesday despite concerns over a hip injury suffered in Saturday night's FA Cup final loss to Chelsea.