Elasi off to Egypt

Young Melbourne Victory striker Nathan Elasi is on his way to the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt after being selected in Jan Versleijen's squad of 21 and the 19-year-old is hoping his flexibility as a player can earn him a spot in the starting line-up.

Young Melbourne Victory striker Nathan Elasi is on his way to the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt after being selected in Jan Versleijen's squad of 21 and the 19-year-old is hoping his flexibility as a player can earn him a spot in the starting line-up.

Elasi has been part of the national set-up for several years and admits that while he is desperate to get a taste of Hyundai A-League football, it has been this tournament which has been his focus for some time.

He sees it as not only a chance to showcase his talents on the world stage, but also a chance to develop his game further.

"I've been selected for the World Cup team which we leave on Monday. I'm pretty fit and I've been training in this camp here, so hopefully I go over there and find myself in the starting XI," he said.

"We'll have a week in camp in Cyprus and then we go to Egypt. We've got a tough pool, but a lot of the boys in the team have been playing A-League week-in, week out, so we're pretty fit and we'll give it a shake."

While Elasi came to Melbourne as a striker, he has developed his game further in the various Young Socceroos camps he has attended and believes that flexibility to play either a midfield or a marksman role will serve him well in both the national set-up and for his club.

"I've played a few positions in the Under 20s. I've been up front, in behind, and out wide. Hopefully, playing those three positions I can find myself in the starting XI somewhere," he said.

"To be signed as a striker at Melbourne Victory, and going away to play a different position, it's going to be good confidence for me. I enjoy playing different positions."

His commitment to the Under 20s squad over the past two seasons has been strongly encouraged by coach Ernie Merrick. But the player himself is aware that it has made it difficult to break into the Hyundai A-League side, and he is yet to make his debut appearance for his club in a league match.

"It's a difficult time of year being part of the World Cup team, and previous to the World Cup, being away which probably makes it hard for me to get a spot back here. But if I keep working hard, I do well in the World Cup and come back fit, then hopefully I can find myself on the starting XI here," he said.

"It's tough to play in front of Arch (Archie Thompson) and Dan (Danny Allsopp). We need to win games and those two are proven in the season to be top goalscorers. So it's always going to be difficult to play in front of those two," he said.

Elasi is also aware that the underage World Cups are often used as a shop window by European clubs and a strong performance in Egypt could see him come onto the radar of those clubs.

"Being at my age, it's a massive stepping stone, just being part of the squad. There's plenty of people over there looking, and at such a young age, it's good to picked up now rather than later," he said.

But his focus is firmly on getting results for Australia, which has been drawn in a tough group containing Brazil, Czech Republic and Costa Rica.

"It's been two years build-up since 2007. We had our first camp then in Vietnam. Every camp since, we've been doing pretty well. We're going into the World Cup pretty confident," he said.

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