Skoko's star quality

Melbourne Heart captain Simon Colosimo believes that the Hyundai A-League is in for a special treat with Josip Skoko returning to play club football in Australia for the first time in 15 years.

Melbourne Heart captain Simon Colosimo believes that the Hyundai A-League is in for a special treat with Josip Skoko returning to play club football in Australia for the first time in 15 years.

Colosimo said Skoko brought a level of technical ability currently unparalleled in the league and he was rated highly by his peers because of what he could offer.

"I think if you went around and spoke to anyone who has played for the Socceroos in the past 10 years and ask them what they thought of Josip Skoko, they will tell you that he is in the top three Socceroos in that period," Colosimo said.

"Skoks in training, it's like a clinic every time he gets the ball. You have to stop yourself from watching with your mouth open and say 'how wonderful?'"

Skoko, who is less than a week away from his first appearance in the Hyundai A-League, knows that having spent so long overseas, Australian fans had not seen his best and that he feels he has something to prove starting next Thursday night against the Mariners.

"Whenever you are playing you are proving something to yourself. I wouldn't be playing if I thought I didn't have something to give. I'm definitely going to go out there and keep playing good football as I have over the years and prove it to myself that I can still play good football," he said.

For Skoko, who has enjoyed a decorated club career with stints in Croatia, Turkey, Belgium and England, the Hyundai A-League and the Melbourne Heart represent a whole new challenge.

"It is a little bit strange, especially being back here in Australia. It's interesting, it's a good challenge for us older guys and it's given a new opportunity for a few younger boys. I think it's good that Melbourne has a second team now," he said.

Colosimo has his sights set high in the inaugural season, saying that a tilt at the championship is not out of the club's reach. The immediate goal is to make the top six.

"This is a club that could come close," he said. "There are 11 teams, six spots for finals, our aim is to make the finals. That's our goal. What comes of that, if there's a home one in that, I'm sure that will be an advantage for us."

The skipper said that the level of training is at least equal to that he experienced in Sydney last year when the Sky Blues won the double.

"I think we are around the same. We've probably got a little bit more international experience on the pitch here. The quality of training and all that was very high last season, and it's a very high standard here," he said.

Having had to build a team from scratch, Heart could be forgiven for taking their time to hit their straps in their inaugural season. But Colosimo believes there are no excuses for a below-par performance against the Mariners next Thursday.

"Why wouldn't we be ready? We've had a undisrupted pre-season. It's been good, we've got a few boys to choose from. We're playing at home, it's a great stadium," he said.

And while he knows the team boasts plenty of star quality with Socceroos such as Skoko, Michael Beauchamp, Dean Heffernan and John Aloisi as well as several international players, Colosimo believes it will be the team's younger brigade which will be crucial to the Heart's competitiveness this season.

"They've fit right in. They are taking in as much as they can. It's not easy for them but I'd have no hesitation whatsoever if the gaffer said four of our younger boys will play. I wouldn't go into the game any different. I'd be confident we can get a result," he said.