Skoko: Finals a must

Melbourne Heart midfielder Josip Skoko has declared anything less than a finals berth would be a failure as the club embarks on its maiden Hyundai A-League campaign.

Melbourne Heart midfielder Josip Skoko has declared anything less than a finals berth would be a failure as the club embarks on its maiden Hyundai A-League campaign.

Success is high on the agenda of Skoko and head coach John van' t Schip after a promising pre-season so far that has included a 2-0 friendly loss to English Premier League side Everton last week.

Skoko was one of a number of Heart players to impress in that match, and is confident his team-mates can carry that form into the 2010-11 Hyundai A-League season.

"Finals are our goal and anything less would be a disappointment," the 34-year-old told Sportal on Wednesday.

The Heart won plenty of praise for the quality football they produced against Everton and Skoko says fans should expect more of the same this season.

"It's very clear that the coach wants us to play attacking football and I think we have the boys capable," he said from a training camp in Bendigo as the Heart prepare for a friendly against the Loddon Mallee Lightning in Epsom on Thursday.

"We've got quick boys who can get in behind and score goals, guys who can hold the ball up and a tough defence. We'll be looking to keep the ball and wear teams down like that."

Skoko urged any football fans in Melbourne who haven't yet experienced the Hyundai A-League to give the competition and the Heart a chance.

"If they (football fans) haven't got on board before, it is the ideal time to jump on and back us,' he said.

"Whoever appreciates a good sporting event, definitely get down because we will try to play a good brand of football. Hopefully we can be very successful which will indeed help."

The Heart will play all 15 home games at Melbourne's new AAMI Park and Skoko was suitably impressed by the rectangular stadium.

"We stepped out there the other day for some photos and the pitch is fantastic. The stadium is really nice but the actual playing surface is really good. I'm looking forward to getting a crowd in there and playing. It's a fantastic stadium," he said.

Recruits Gerald Sibon and Rutger Worm were particularly impressive against Everton and Skoko expects big things from the Dutch duo.

"They've been bought to bring a bit more quality to the squad. We are expecting good performances and goals. We've seen in training that they are very capable and we don't expect anything less in the games," he said.

Skoko was also excited by the prospect of facing up to the Victory in an all-Melbourne derby.

"I think it should be really interesting. I'm sure there'll be a lot of people at the games and there'll be some good football played. I'm sure the public will warm to the rivalry," he said.

Heart quartet Eli Babalj, Kliment Taseski, Brendan Hamill and Kamal Ibrahim are some of the youngsters who will benefit from Skoko's experience, with the former Hajduk Split and Wigan midfielder one of many experienced players taking a hands-on role in the development of youth.

"The more experienced boys are basically coaches on the field which is invaluable to the young kids. The coach from the sideline can't always have a word during the game and in critical moments so we'll be important to them," the former Socceroo said.