Exclusive: McBreen means business on A-League return

The experienced centre-forward has his sights set on another big campaign in Australian football after spending the off-season honing his skills in China's top flight
Central Coast Mariners striker Daniel McBreen capped off the 13th and final appearance of his loan spell at Shanghai SIPG with a goal and man of the match award against Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande and is now ready for competition back at his parent club.

An A-League champion and surprise golden boot winner last season, he returns to Bluetongue Stadium to find Marcos Flores, Matt Simon and Mitchell Duke barring the way for a place in Graham Arnold's first team.

But the veteran remains confident of having another big impact throughout the 2013-14 campaign.

"I wouldn't say I'm worried [about fighting for his place in the Mariners squad]. Having an abundance of good players in your team is always a great thing," said the 36 year old.

"It brings out the best in everyone and forces them to give their all in training every day to try and get in that team. It's a great thing for the club."

The Mariners have brought back Mat Simon, signed Marcos Flores and Mitchell Duke has improved considerably but McBreen does not believe that competition for places or missing the first few games of the campaign will affect his chances of repeating his 2012-13 Golden Boot win.

"Of course," he said when asked if he wanted to repeat the feat.

"You have to set yourself goals and mine is to score. Although I'll miss the first four games I'm hoping the boys will create enough chances for me to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season."

Following thirteen appearances for Shanghai SIPG in which McBreen found the net three times, he looks back on his time in the CSL favorably with a newly promoted Shanghai club which had set some ambitious targets.

"I started off with a couple of goals which was good. Since then I have had a few assists and feel I have done my part in creating space for others to get into scoring positions, and worked hard for the team," he said.

"Priority number one was to stay in the league but the club is very ambitious and set a target of sixth at the start of the season ... so I feel it has been a successful season for the club."

McBreen joined SIPG along with his Mariners team-mate Bernie Ibini, who signed a permanent deal with the club. With the duo joining from the A-League, McBreen identifies obvious differences between the two.

"I guess I have been surprised a little [by the quality of football in China]. I think in general players in China have more individual technical ability but I think in Australia there are more tactics and structure and the games are much more physically demanding."

McBreen leaves the club in ninth with just a two-point gap between SIPG and fifth-placed Shanghai Shenhua, with Jiangsu Sainty away being their last match of the 2013 campaign.

Shanghai SIPG's impressive season comes on the back of other CSL promotion successes. The likes of Dalian Aerbin and Guangzhou Evergrande are now established sides but where they have followed promotion with splashing cash on the likes of Seydou Keita and Marcello Lippi respectively, SIPG have built up a strong squad of domestic talent.

"Basically all of the Chinese players have come through together from the age of 12 at this training base. There are also numerous youth teams on base so the future looks bright," said McBreen, referring to the club's Genbao academy, which has seen the likes of 21-year-old attacking midfielder Wu Lei come through, the highest Chinese goalscorer in the CSL with 15.

With the door now closed on his first China spell, McBreen certainly has not slammed it shut completely and is open to a return to the CSL.

"It was fully understood that I would be returning to the Mariners at the end of this loan so we haven't even brought it up but if an option to return to the CSL came up in the future then I would definitely seriously consider it."

McBreen departs Shanghai SIPG with the club certainly stronger and his attention now turns to the A-League season already in full swing.

Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. Follow him on Twitter at @peteydavis

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