Australia defender Sasa Ognenovski revealed a move to the Persian Gulf is on the cards as he bids to lighten the load on his body en route to the 2014 World Cup.
The 33-year-old Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma stopper, who shone for the Socceroos in the World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Japan, rejected a switch to Qatar-based Al Wahda 10 months ago.
But with two clubs from the region currently circling him, the ageless Ognenovski – soon to be a free agent as he resists signing on for a fourth season at Seongnam – is now ready to embrace the Petrodollars in a calculated effort to reduce wear and tear on his battle-hardened physique.
"More than likely my next move will be to Qatar," Ognenovski said.
"The idea is to lessen the load on my body a little bit. This season in the K-League we play 44 league games. We've played seven Asian Champions League games and a couple of FA Cup games, so it's quite demanding.
"That's a pretty heavy work load and there are never any easy games. Also coaches here never pull you out, even if you're suffering fatigue.
"I just want to look after my body a bit more and maybe play 35 games a season, rather than say 50.
"There are a couple of clubs who have shown interest, so we will see what happens. I could have gone to Qatar last year but at that time I was looking more at a move to Europe."
The 13-times capped Ognenovski came close to a move to Crystal Palace last January but was stymied by visa restrictions over the number of games he had played for Australia over the preceding two years.
The challenge in places like Qatar is making sure you keep a high level of professionalism, according to Ognenovski.
Soccceroos team-mate Mark Bresciano has flourished in the UAE Pro League League with Al Nasr while Aussie skipper Lucas Neill spent last season with Al Jazira and is looking to secure another contract in the United Arab Emirates.
"They can't train as hard and play with the same intensity that a lot of other leagues do because of the heat," Ognenovski said.
"So you have to make sure your professionalism doesn't slip at any time.
"I've had a great time in Korea. I've won trophies and individual honours and have in a way opened the door for other Australian players to play in the K-League."
Despite seemingly dropping down the pecking order in recent internationals as Japan-based Matthew Spiranovic got the nod, Ognenovski reclaimed the prized centre-back spot alongside Neill and now sees the duo as likely incumbents on the road to Brazil 2014.
"I think at the moment we are the first choice pair. Fortunately for us, and not so fortunately for them, none of the young boys have really come in and taken the bull by the horns," the 2010 AFC Player of the Year declared.
"So while some of them also are playing regularly for their clubs, for the moment it looks like falling on Lucas and myself.
"I think we're doing a decent job and I don't see too much changing for the next few qualifiers unless of course our form drops off."
Ognenovski – rested for the friendly against Denmark in early June – believes his experience is an added boost for national team boss Holger Osieck.
"I didn't play the Denmark game more so because we have a heavy load in the K-League and I'd played six games in less than two weeks," he said.
"But I always felt I would probably get the nod for the qualifiers.
"When I came in alongside Lucas for the Oman match I felt very comfortable.
"I've played for the national team for a little while now and I feel quite comfortable that I can do a job."
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
Melbourne Heart teenager Brendan Hamill is set to become the latest Australian defender to join the exodus to Korea by signing for Seongnam Ilhwa.