Haliti's keeping his eye on the ball, not the purse
Winners are grinners ... Haliti celebrates his goal at the weekend. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Labinot Haliti's match-winner against the Mariners on Saturday may have been the most memorable goal of Western Sydney Wanderers' short existence - and the attacking midfielder's sights remain focused on hitting the back of the net and not on a new deal.
Haliti is one of the few Wanderers players yet to sign on for next season but he boosted his chances of being offered a contract extension with the goal that sent the club to the top of the A-League table. He has struggled to find regular game time this season but showed his worth with a goal only minutes after entering the match. The 27 year-old is fixated on maintaining his form and place in the squad. He will put aside talks regarding his future to avoid a possible distraction.
"This time of the season, I prefer just to concentrate on playing. I'm only concentrating on that and the other stuff can be left to other people who are in charge of that. For me I want to concentrate on the next four games which is important for the club." Haliti said.
Keeping his eye on the prize ... Labinot Haliti. Photo: Kate Geraghty
While he remains focused on the road ahead, Haliti was still struggling to come to terms with Saturday night's heroics in Gosford. He was exhilarated days after the match after scoring a goal he describes as the best of his career.
"I can't put it into words," Haliti said. "I don't think you can compare it because when you see a crowd like that in an away match, the hype of the game the importance of a game, I don't think you can compare anything. It's just the perfect moment and I was lucky to be on the end of it. I had to take it, lucky for me it went in."
He's scored three times this season despite being limited to just five starts with the Wanderers. Haliti credits the support of coach Tony Popovic and assistant Ante Milicic and has vowed to repay the faith they have showed in him.
"I think I can't speak highly enough of him. I owe it all to him and his coaching staff. Him and Ante Milicic are a big part of where I am today and I want to keep going higher. They've believed in me from day one and when a coach believes in you, it's so much easier to go out there and do what I have to do. I can't put it in words what it means to me. I just hope I keep going and repay the faith they've shown in me," Haliti said.
The Wanderers place in the spotlight showed no signs of subsiding as they received a surprise visit from Primer Minister Julia Gillard before Monday's training session.
"It was a good moment and I think all the boys enjoyed it. It's not every day you meet a prime minister, especially in your work — it's nice early in the morning, it's always a good feeling." Haliti said.