Rising Mariner plans to continue ascension in football world
LAW student Zac Anderson joined the Mariners this season intent on sponging as much knowledge as he could - but a breakout year for the A-League powerhouse got the Sunshine Coast export thinking bigger.
A bench player at the start of the season, the tall central defender has become a key component of coach Graham Arnold's Gosford-based squad and is now a regular starter.
Cracking one of the league's best teams and getting international exposure playing for Central Coast in the AFC Champions League has spiked the 21-year-old's confidence.
As the 2012 premier prepared for a Champions League home clash against Chinese club Guizhou last night - ahead of a return leg in China next week and then an A-League major semi-final appointment on Sunday week - Anderson spoke like someone orchestrating his own destiny.
The law degree, which he is doing externally through QUT, is his Plan B - but he does not intend to use it. Not yet anyway.
After playing in 23 of the Mariners' 27 regular-season games this season, including 11 as a starter, he believes he has earned the respect of teammates since joining the club following Gold Coast United's demise.
The Australian under-23 representative wants to further solidify his position at Central Coast in 2014 and then land an attractive overseas gig.
He said: "I came to the club as an inexperienced 20-year-old only with a dozen games under my belt. This club has grown me professionally as a player.
"I'm learning exactly what I need to do day in, day out to be the best I can be … not only in the A-League, but the chance to play Asian and some international teams broadens my horizons of where I want to be and has changed my goals."
Having finished the regular season in second place, three points adrift of newcomer Western Sydney, the Mariners play the highest ranked team from Friday and Sunday's elimination finals for the right to contest the grand final.
The side has appeared in three grand finals, but is yet to win one.
"We've put ourselves in a really good position, finishing second," Anderson said.
"This year we really made a goal to make that grand final and go on with it."