Australian striker Andrew Barisic to return to Indonesia's Arema after Iran no-go

The forward will now be available for Arema's AFC Cup quarter-final tie after declining to pursue a contract at Iran Pro-League club Sanat Naft

Australian striker Andrew Barisic will return to Indonesia Premier League club Arema after electing to take an eventful trial at Iranian club Sanat Naft no further.

Doubt over kick-off for the new Indonesian football season continues as merger talks between the IPL and rebel Indonesia Super League rumble on, with Barisic one of scores of foreign players exploring their options as a result.

But Barisic will return to Arema in the coming days in preparation for the club's AFC Cup quarter-final tie with Saudi outfit Al-Ettifaq in September, having decided against pursuing a contract at Sanat Naft.

In somewhat of a nightmare trip, a combination of mechanical problems and ticketing complications ensured Barisic did not arrive in Tehran until August 3 despite leaving Australia on July 31.

But more was to come for the 26-year-old, who left Australia in 2011 to join Persebaya before moving to Arema for the 2012 campaign. 

The Iran Pro-League club having returned from their training base in Tehran back to their home city Abadan in the country's south-west, meaning Barisic had to wait four days to link up with the team.

With foreign bank cards not accepted in Iran, he was fortunate to have the support of agent Amir Saadati - a contact of Australian management company ZSEM - while waiting to travel to Abadan, a city whose population plummeted to just six people in 1986 during the country's conflict with Iraq before returning to over 200,000 today.

Put up in a hotel by the club, temperatures soared to around 60 degrees Celsius during the day and were still in the mid-40s when the side trained in the evening.

With his hotel in Abadan offering views of Iraq across the river dividing the two countries, Barisic decided the move was not for him.

"I saw a little bit on the map and I knew where it was.  I did know a bit about it - I did a bit of research, but not to see what was there when I'd get there," Barisic told

"Obviously, they're only going to show the nice things in tourism.  Some of the days were amazingly hot.  Apart from arriving there during the day, I had not left the hotel during the day once.  One of the days it was 62 degrees in the day and during training at night, you're roughly looking at about 45 [degrees].

"I did pretty well in both trainings and the third training, but just the heat… I've played in Indonesia which is hotter than anywhere [I've been] and I could cope with that, but this was just another level.

"Tehran was actually fine.  It was a really nice city, the heat wasn't too much.  But this city was just like a desert, to be honest.  You've probably got one little market and that was it.  It would have been a real struggle to live there.

"The hotel was put in was pretty much on a river that you could jump into, and the other side was Iraq.  You could pretty much swim there, and you could see people on the other side.

"I sort of decided it probably wasn't the best thing for me at the moment… I think to go to a team like that and a place like that, I think it'd probably bring me down a bit.

"It's not just about the money and everything.  To be doing well and to go on to the next level, you've got to be happy in football.

"Iran… the media perspective of it is pretty bad, but I found it was actually really good.  But being in an area like [Abadan], you never feel exactly 100 percent safe.

Barisic has kept in touch with Saadati and would be open to a move to any of the sides in the bigger cities of Tehran and Esfahan, with noted clubs Persepolis and Esteghlal - the club of former Sydney FC goalkeeper Liam Reddy - calling the former home.

"If I put my mind to it and do play there, I think I can really do well there.  I've spoken to the guys there, and a lot of the Qatar and the bigger Asian countries come there and look at the players," he said.

"Football can change overnight."

For now, though, Barisic will return to Arema ahead of the AFC Cup quarter-finals and potentially another third domestic season in Indonesia: "Now it's back to Arema, and I'm happy to be going back there and playing against the Saudis in the AFC quarters."

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