|By PADDY HIGGS
The wait is almost over for Australian striker Andrew Barisic, having sealed a transfer to Indian club East Bengal.
With the 26-year-old having finally signed a contract at the I-League title chasers, he is now eyeing a possible debut on January 19 - having played just two competitive games since July.
The Canberra-born former Gold Coast United frontman had found himself caught up in the politics of Indonesian football, with a solution yet to be found over the merging of the nation's two professional leagues.
Barisic scored six times for Malang outfit Arema in the 2011-12 season of the Fifa-sanctioned Indonesian Premier League, but had been considering his future amid doubt over when a new top-flight season would begin.
He turned down a move to Iranian club Sanat Naft in August, returning to Arema for their AFC Cup quarter-final loss to Saudi outfit Al Ittifaq across two legs in September.
Barisic requires an international transfer certificate from Arema before his can make his debut for East Bengal when the transfer window reopens on January 15.
Sitting third on the I-League table, East Bengal host league leaders Churchill brothers four days later.
"I can't wait to just get over there," Barisic told Goal.com ahead of his departure for India on Saturday.
"With Indonesia, how it is at the moment, I just don’t see any progression there with what's going on with the different leagues.
"I just thought a move would be good at this time for my career, and why not try somewhere else?
"The opportunity came, and I can't wait."
Newly engaged and having kept fit with a personal trainer over the break, Barisic's move to East Bengal had been in the pipeline since November, with the club flying him over for a trial.
Both parties liked what they saw, but - due to transfer regulations - were unable to process the one-and-a-half year deal until January.
Barisic will be under experienced English manager and former Sorrento FC coach Trevor Morgan [pictured right] at East Bengal, having "got along with him really well" during the trial in November.
He consulted India Under-23 and Pailan Arrows coach Arthur Papas - on the coaching staff when Barisic was at Victorian Premier League club Melbourne Knights earlier in his career - before his move.
Barisic will also look to emulate countryman Tolgay Ozbey's goalscoring exploits at the club; the one-time Newcastle Jets forward scored 35 times across two seasons at East Bengal, before making an acrimonious move to city rivals Mohun Bagan before the 2012-13 campaign.
"He was a big player there and did very well there, but obviously leaving to the rival team - same as I found out in Indonesia [from Persebaya to Arema] - you're not very liked," Barisic said.
"But they all still talk about him… They're obviously thankful of what he did at the club. [Him] leaving, they're not too happy, but that's football. You've got to go with your instinct and your career."