Trent Sainsbury has spoken of his excitement at the prospect of competing in PSV Eindhoven’s tough Champions League group alongside teammate and friend Aziz Behich.
The Australian pair moved to PSV from Jiangsu Suning and Bursaspor respectively in the European summer, joining Mark van Bommel’s revolution.
The defensive pair are familiar with van Bommel; the former Bayern Munich player served temporarily as Bert van Marwijk’s Socceroos assistant.
He’s now in charge of the Dutch champions, who have been drawn in Champions League Group B alongside FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan.
To say it is a group of death would be understating things.
But Sainsbury, who is part of Graham Arnold’s first Socceroos squad in his second tenure at the helm – a 30-man training squad in Antalya, Turkey – is buzzing to get going in Europe.
And to do it all alongside Behich will only add to the experience, he says.
“It’s a crazy group that we’ve been drawn in, but getting to walk out there to that theme song, it’s the stuff you dream of as a kid,” the defender explained.
“Being able to do it alongside a fellow Aussie, that’s something special.
“(There’s) a long way to go, a lot of hard work to go, but we’ll get there in the end.”
PSV begin their campaign in arguably the toughest way possible; a trip to Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
For the time being, he will complete another day or so in Turkey before heading back to the Netherlands, familiarising himself with former Central Coast Mariners mentor Arnold.
Sainsbury will get the chance to further solidify his place in Arnold’s first team plans in actual match play in November, when the Socceroos face South Korea in Brisbane and Lebanon in Sydney.
The second of those pre-Asian Cup friendlies is to serve as Tim Cahill’s farewell match, a move that has polarised opinion.
Is affording him match minutes during Asian Cup preparation the right way to farewell Tim Cahill? 🤔
— Daily Football Show (@DFS_AUS) September 6, 2018
However, Arnold told a teleconference that he was content with the role Cahill would play in the match.
That was revealed as a five-minute or so cameo off the bench at the end of the game.
“For 85 minutes of that game it will be all about the preparation for the Asian Cup, and for five minutes it will be to say goodbye to a country’s legend,” he said.
“Timmy knows he’s not starting the game and there was never any conversation about Timmy starting the game, or playing 60 minutes.”