Bearing the responsibility which comes with being a team’s main offensive threat is a pressure which few thrive upon.
Bearing the responsibility which comes with being a team-s main offensive threat is a pressure which few thrive upon.
But in leading scorer and star striker Mate Dugandzic, Melbourne Heart FC has found a performer whose calm and composure belies both his age and experience.
Crossing the divide to the red half of Melbourne earlier this year, Dugandzic has immediately established himself as a hero at his new club, finding the back of the net five times to cement his place as one of the leading attacking forces in the Hyundai A-League.
Built for speed, Dugandzic-s incredible acceleration and ball control has seen him recognised with Olyroo selection, joining fellow team mates Aziz Behich and Jason Hoffman in the team seeking to qualify for the 2012 London Games.
However, despite his achievements, Dugandzic remains humble in the face of praise, attributing his recent run of form to luck, as much as his own improvement.
“I have to admit, a couple of the goals I-ve managed to score have fallen to me, whether it be between a couple of players or not,” he said.
“I don-t really know if I-ve stepped up too much, I still feel there are many aspects of my game I need to improve on.”
Pressed on his own significant development this season, Dugandzic is reticent to accept praise, stating any perceived improvement has simply come with experience.
“I suppose I have improved a little, it comes with experience,” he said.
“I-ve played in the league now for a couple of years, and am starting to enjoy where I-m playing, the position I-m in and I-ve had a bit of luck as well.”
With Heart seated third on the table, within touching distance of the top two, the Melbourne Derby looms as an opportunity for the Red and White to consolidate its place among the competition-s leading sides, adding further intrigue to a contest which has captured the State-s imagination.
Dugandzic admits nerves may play a role on Friday night, with the 22-year-old saying he isn-t quite sure what to expect when facing a potential full house at AAMI Park.
“You try and prepare as normal as possible. Of course, you-re realise the game is going to be difficult mentally more than anything else, as the crowd is going to be heavily involved,” he said.
“It causes a few nerves. I won-t know what to expect until I step out on AAMI Park. It-s been a long time since we-ve played there. Nerves will come with the match, but hopefully the team can thrive under the conditions and snare a win.
“We-re sitting third on the ladder with a game in hand, and if we win that, we-ll jump above Brisbane. To have said that seven weeks ago would have been a shock to everyone. “