Buoyant Bulut takes aim at Socceroos spot

Kerem Bulut is hoping to impress Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou (AAP) Source: AAP

Fiery striker Kerem Bulut is targeting a call up for Australia's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as he guns for goals with Greek Super League club Iraklis.

A star at youth level for the green and gold, Bulut, 23, now has his gaze fixed on a loftier ambition as the road to Russia unfurls for the Socceroos, who face back-to-back qualifiers against Bangladesh and Tajikistan in September.

Having impressed in a number of pre-season outings already for his new club – back in the top flight after winning promotion – the former Western Sydney Wanderers fans' favourite believes he can offer coach Ange Postecoglou another attacking option.

"I have set myself a few goals this season and getting a call up for the national team is one of them," revealed the uncapped Bulut.

"I have never met or even spoken to Ange because I was playing abroad when he was in the A-League but I know his assistant Ante Milicic well from my time with the Australian Under-20s and we always had a good relationship.

"If I do well at Iraklis I don't see why I wouldn't be in with a big chance of a call up."

Asked if he thought he might offer Postecoglou something different when compared with Robbie Kruse, Tim Cahill, Nathan Burns, Mathew Leckie and Tomi Juric, Bulut replied: "Ange has plenty of good attacking players but of course Timmy is at the tail end of a fantastic career and I think I could bring a lot to the national team.

"I have the passion for goalscoring, hard work and to play for your country is second to none ... I definitely feel I can step up.

"It looks like I'll be in the starting team for our first league game (away to Kalloni on 23 August). We've had a few warm up games and I scored in our last one, and did well in another.

"Playing well for my club will be the key to everything for me this season."

Bulut credits Wanderers coach Tony Popovic for reviving his career after four months without senior football prior to his stint in Wanderland.

And he insisted his departure from the club – for whom he scored six goals in 13 appearances while on a short-term deal - had 'nothing to do with money' amid rumours he had been unimpressed by the contact offer on the table.

"It wasn't about that at all," he said. "I always wanted to return to Europe and going to the Wanderers was all about getting myself back on track again (after his departure from Akhisar Belediyespor) and back to scoring goals again.

"Poppa helped me with that ... we had a very strong relationship and to work for him is second to none. He's one of those coaches you always want to play for and he did a lot for me.

"He was the reason I came back, and I wouldn't have gone anywhere else but the Wanderers.

"I knew he would get the best out of me. And I owe my success at the club to him. Nobody leaves the Wanderers having gone backwards because working with Poppa improves the mentality of his players.

"When I arrived there my confidence was really low but I am feeling great now.

"It was make-or-break situation for me. I had to come and make a big bang and there was a lot of mental pressure on and I overcame that.

"It was stepping stone to get back and show myself again to everybody in Australia. That was the goal for me – and then to let the football do the talking.

"It was always my aim to get back to Europe and make a name for myself here - Australia will always be there at the end of the day.

"Iraklis has a good fan base and that's important to me. They were in the top division for a long time before going down through a corruption scandal a few years back.

"But they have a new president from Canada and are back in the top division now and our goal this year is to qualify for the Europa League.

"This is my first pre-season in two years and I am feeling sharp after a good spell with the Wanderers. Things are falling into place."

Bulut, who brokered his own deal with Iraklis, was recommended to the club by Greece striker Theofanis Gekas – a former team-mate at Akhisar Belediyespor.

"Iraklis was looking for a striker and they wanted to take him but he was already committed to joining a team in Turkey and he put me forward instead and told them I was an up-and-coming player who could maybe be sold on in the future.

"He put me in contact with the club and it went from there. They knew a bit about me because when they watched Gekas at Akhisar Belediyespor where we used to play up front together.

"They also saw what I achieved in Australia over my six months there. I didn't come here to chase the money.

"It's about getting to a European team and to score a minimum of 10 goals this season, and maybe move on after one or two years and progress from there.

"Thessaloniki is a very nice city – it's on the water and reminds me of Sydney a bit. We have PAOK here also here so that's a big derby match to look forward to."

Source SBS