Birthday boy Adam Taggart is hoping for the best present possible when the final 23-man Socceroo squad for the World Cup is announced on Tuesday, with the livewire striker saying Australia's punishing boot camp is starting to pay off.
Jets striker Taggart turned 21 on Sunday but there was little time for the Socceroo hopeful to enjoy any celebration.
Again, in Sunday's session, coach Ange Postecoglou stopped training regularly to get his attacking message across as the punishing sessions continue at the team’s training base the Arena Unimed Sicoo in Vitoria.
“With the training being so intense I haven’t had time to sit back and think about my birthday,” Taggart told reporters.
“It’s nice to celebrate it while we’re preparing for a World Cup with people you’ve idolized.
“And it wouldn’t make any difference – I’d be over the moon (if selected). If not, then it’s a great experience and what I can take into my career moving forward.”
One of those Taggart has learned from is Timmy Cahill. Another is captain Mile Jedinak.
And while Taggart sidestepped questions about his chances of making the 23, he said it’s already been a learning curve for him.
Taggart is hoping like most to get game time tomorrow in a friendly against a local side before the final 23 players in the squad is announced.
“I’m trying to learn and develop. Most of it is training with players who you’ve idolized and experienced training sessions with them.
“Someone like Timmy Cahill and Mile Jedinak in the EPL, keeping up the intensity in training and trying to take things to help implement your attitude,” he said.
Attitude is one of the keys to coach Postecoglou’s game. He doesn’t want players to take a negative mindset.
It’s all about taking the game to the opposition.
“He wants to implement a forward style of play. It’s hard because we only have a short period of time together before the World Cup starts," said the striker.
“So we need to go into them [the games] with everyone understanding everyone’s roles.
“But again, we seem to be getting better and better each day.
“We’re coping alright. Every day it seems to get that little bit easier.
“We don’t want to be a team that’s just sitting back. We want to put ourselves out there."
Taggart added the jet lag is starting to wear off for most of the players, who arrived in Vitoria last Thursday.
And clearly the players are enjoying being popular with the locals. Almost 3000 fans saw Saturday's training session.
And a trip to the local shopping centre meant hundreds of fans flocked to see Taggart and other Socceroos.
“We’re all very appreciative of the support. And yesterday just going to the shops was an experience in itself.
“We’re adapting to it and doing all the right things on and off the field with recovery, making sure we’re prepared for each session so when the games come, we’ll be ready to go.
“Mentally we’re all feeling pretty confident with the way training’s been going and the intensity and fitness levels of all seems pretty high right now.”
Taggart added a parting shot at Chile’s viral TV advertisement by some of the famous Chilean trapped miners. In the ad for a Chilean bank, they give a passionate speech to rev up up their footballers for this World Cup group, though the Socceroos aren't mentioned – only Holland and Spain.
“It’s only more driving power [for Australia]," added Taggart when quizzed.
“If we go under the radar then that’s fine. We’re continually working and focusing on ourselves.”
Does it bother Taggart that Chile didn't even mention Australia in the commercial? “Not really, no.”