Cup ambition driving Archie

A World Cup ambition has driven Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson to his best fitness levels in a decade with the 30-year-old determined to secure a place in Pim Verbeek's 23-man squad for South Africa.

A World Cup ambition has driven Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson to his best fitness levels in a decade with the 30-year-old determined to secure a place in Pim Verbeek's 23-man squad for South Africa.

Coach Ernie Merrick recently described Thompson as in the best condition he has ever seen him after a pre-season un-interrupted by neither injury nor national commitments. Thompson told Sportal that the prospect of making a second consecutive World Cup squad had given him renewed motivation to make sure he was at his absolute best for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

"I've been working really hard the last couple of months. Obviously this is a World Cup year and I want to just put everything out there. I want to leave no stone unturned to give myself that opportunity to be in the World Cup. There's another year to go, I want to make sure I have every opportunity to do it," he said.

Thompson was not involved in the Qantas Socceroos' three World Cup qualifiers in June, and last played for the national team in the 1-0 loss to Kuwait in an Asian Cup qualifier in Canberra in March. While he would have preferred to be a part of the June camp, he has had the opportunity for the first time in four years to focus solely on his preparation for his club.

"You'd still like to be a part of qualifying for a World Cup. There's no better feeling. I remember from last time we qualified. I was still on a high for so many months afterwards. I'm sure the guys have the same feeling," he said.

"This is probably the longest pre-season I have ever had. There has been such a big break between the seasons, I've had time to take care of myself and gradually build myself up. I'm at a level I want to be and I want to keep improving that."

He paid tribute to Victory's sports science and fitness program, saying that it had given him the chance to reach his best fitness levels in a decade.

"I feel probably like I felt ten years ago. I think it-s just due to difference of training and the conditioning programs we have these days. Adam Basil has set out a terrific program. We have the opportunities to say to the coach, 'I'm a bit sore maybe if I have an easy week', they accommodate that, which is something I've never had," he said.

Meanwhile, Thompson was impressed with the first training session from Melbourne's Thai recruit Surat Sukha, who arrived in Australia on Wednesday. He backed the defender to fit in well at the club and said he will be a huge asset.

"I think he'll be a great defender. He looks good, he looks comfortable on the ball and once he knows the team and the player around him, and more importantly, how to speak a bit of English, he'll be great," he said.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole is also expecting Sukha to make a quite an impression as the first Thai international in the Hyundai A-League.

"He's a fantastic player. He's someone who has played about 15 or 16 times for his country. I spoke to Steve Derby, who's the assistant coach in Thailand. They're playing Liverpool on the 22nd of July, and he's got a man-marking job on Steven Gerrard. They obviously think highly of him, so we think highly, we think we've done well," Cole said

"Seventy games for Chonburi, he played with Ney Fabiano against us in the 2008 ACL. He's got great experience in the ACL and the AFC Cup. We're expecting big things of him and it will take him a little time to adjust as it does with all our foreigners, getting him used to the cold weather for one, he's a really nice man."