St Mirren star Keanu Baccus going all out in pursuit of Australia World Cup squad after Hibs victory

The 24-year-old is eyeing a place in Graham Arnold’s 26-man squad for Qatar later this year.
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St Mirren midfielder Keanu Baccus admits he hasn’t given up hope of being named in the Australian national team for the FIFA World Cup in November.

The former under-23 star and Buddies team-mate Ryan Strain are firmly on Socceroos boss Graham Arnold’s radar, despite both players considered as outsiders to make the 26-man squad that needs to be submitted by October 13.

Arnold sent an Aussie FA representatitive to Saturday’s match in Paisley to catch up with Hibernian’s Martin Boyle and cast an eye over the two Saints players - and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Keanu Baccus celebrates in front of the Hibs support after opening the scoring for St Mirren. Picture: SNSKeanu Baccus celebrates in front of the Hibs support after opening the scoring for St Mirren. Picture: SNS
Keanu Baccus celebrates in front of the Hibs support after opening the scoring for St Mirren. Picture: SNS

Baccus was an important force behind a third successive victory for Stephen Robinson’s side, scoring a sixth minute winner courtesy of an assist from fellow countryman Strain.

Robinson views both players as live contenders to mount a late charge to book their spot on the plane to Qatar in three months time and Baccus knows he must continue the rich vein of form he is currently enjoying to be involved.

He admitted: “The World Cup is in my thoughts. You have to, right? You have to think positively as a footballer and than anything is possible.

“Things can change quickly and it could be your turn or not your turn. There have been times when it wasn’t my turn but hopefully with a good run here I can get there.

“I think they’ve been watching a few games this weekend and it was the same last weekend. It’s good there are a lot of eyes on the game and all the Australian players who are doing well.

“Ryan and I were on two different teams back in Australia but I played in the under-23s with him. He didn’t come to the Olympics with us for some reason when he was over in Israel.

“But I’m really happy for him as he’s been doing great for St Mirren now. Hopefully we can both push on and you never know what might happen.

“Things can change quickly in football and there could be something around the corner for us national team-wise. That’s what we’re aspiring to.”

Signed from A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers in the summer, visa red tape issues delayed Baccus’ arrival at the club but he’s quickly making up for lost time.

The 24-year-old displayed brilliant composure to sweep home the decisive goal but he was far from convincing as an attacking threat in the second half as St Mirren chased a second.

Baccus spurned two great opportunities late on as the home side looked to hit on the counter; firing one effort high over the crossbar, then sending another shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

He said: “It was amazing to get the winning goal but I felt I should have had another one or two. I need to raise the standards a little bit, keep my shots down and on target.

“I get told that all the time by the coaching staff. Hopefully if I keep working at it and practicing there will be more to come. I want to work on it.

“In the past I’ve probably not scored as many as I would have liked given the amount of games that I’ve played. All the coaches here are working with me and telling me to make sure I get my shots on target at least.

“I’m really enjoying the No.8 role for the team and the gaffer obviously used to be a midfielder so he is teaching me a lot.

“I could have had a hat-trick (on Saturday) which is why I was a little bit upset at the end, but we won so we move on.

“For the team to get three points was the most important thing. I just should have scored more to ease the pressure.”