Marijan Cabraja ready for Hibs debut and emulating his countrymen in Scotland
Cabraja made the switch from Dinamo Zagreb on a three-year deal earlier this month after being recruited as a direct replacement for left-back Josh Doig, who made a £3 million move to Hellas Verona.
Today’s opening Premiership clash at St Johnstone will offer Hibs fans the chance to see the 25-year-old in action for the first time, with a delay in obtaining a work permit preventing him from featuring in the ill-fated Premier Sports Cup group campaign.
Cabraja’s first priority is to impress those supporters and his manager, Lee Johnson, in his bid to become a mainstay in the team.
The defender, however, has also made it clear that international recognition is also at the back of his mind.
His case is emboldened by the fact that Celtic defender Juranovic and Rangers full-back Barisic have shown that playing in Scotland is no barrier to the national team.
“This is one of the reasons I came here,” said Cabraja, who has been capped at youth level.
“If you are not playing regularly anywhere, you won’t get in the national team.
“It is always my dream and I will take it slowly, step by step and we will see what happens.
“I have played from Under-15 to Under-21 for my country and two Euros at U19 and U21, so I hope that coming to Hibs can help me make the full team.
“In Croatia, everybody knows about Hibernian, so when I got the chance to come here I was happy.
“It is something new for me, a new chance and a new challenge that is not something close to home.
“I see it as the chance to make some other opportunities for me.
“I know these guys (Barisic, Juranovic) although I haven’t been in touch with them yet. They have done pretty well here in Scotland, so I hope I can do the same.”
Cabraja spent last season on loan at Hungarian side Ferencvaros, where he was a team-mate of former Hibs goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, and in Slovenian with Olimpija Ljubljana.
Red tape has held up his Hibs debut and despite his lack of match sharpness, Cabraja seems certain to start at McDiarmid Park with club legend Lewis Stevenson among those injured.
Cabraja, however, has no qualms about being thrown in.
He added: “The paperwork was done two days ago and now I am ready to play.
“It has been fine. To be honest, it didn’t take too long, maybe two weeks, so it’s fine.
“I have trained with the guys and got to know the guys, the staff and coaches and everyone, so the time passed quickly.
“We have done all the fitness tests and I think I am ready to play if the manager chooses me. I am completely fit for the game.”
As for the pressure of filling Doig’s boots at Leith, Cabraja is open to the challenge.
“I will do my best and I hope I will be a good replacement,” he added. “Obviously he did well and got a transfer to Italy."
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