He might be the more junior of Western Sydney’s favourite pair of sibling midfielders but Keanu Baccus is set to make a name for himself as the Wanderers hit the home straight in their battle for promotion from the NPL2.
In fact, Tony Popovic might soon have the ultimate selection dilemma thrust upon him should the Kings Park local continue his rapid climb from Parklea to co-captaining the Wanderers NPL team in their inaugural season.
Keanu’s rise mirrors only a small fragment of the journey older brother and first teamer Kearyn undertook years before the midfield craftsmen were reunited in Red & Black in 2014.
And now that the distance between the two in their professional lives is as close as it has ever been, the dream of playing alongside his elder sibling has become a very real one for Keanu – although, only if they can find the right alchemy in the middle of the park.
“I’d probably have to hold (in the midfield),” admitted Keanu.
“Kearyn is more adventurous and likes more of a free role”.
The Blacktown City graduate might have extra baggage to carry because of his surname but for an older and wiser Keanu, Baccus senior is no longer the primary motivator in his young footballing career.
“A lot of the time I’m motivated by watching other Wanderers players and learning off them,” said Keanu.
“I spent a lot of time watching and training with Andreu last season and picked up a lot of things off him.
“He showed me how to be smarter with the ball.”
A photo posted by DJNUNZ (@keanu_baccus) on Mar 4, 2016 at 12:21am PST
From a technical standpoint, Baccus says he has tidied his game up significantly in the last 12 months and there are dashes of the Spaniard’s exceptional close control in his ability to navigate the Wanderers midfield.
But after two campaigns in the Foxtel National Youth League, Baccus says the rigors of the national third tier have proved most beneficial to his development.
“It’s been a good learning curve, they probably don’t play the most attractive football in the NPL but players are very physical.
“The NYL is faster and players are a lot smarter whereas in the NPL it’s the opposite, they’re strong physically but mentally they’re not as quick.
“It’s matured me, and to be young and still be a leader within the team is important.”
A photo posted by DJNUNZ (@keanu_baccus) on Mar 6, 2016 at 11:30pm PST
Baccus’ NPL Wanderers are currently behind rivals Sydney FC on goal difference as the premiership race intensifies with ten rounds remaining.
And while securing what would be a historic club championship triumph remains firmly on the agenda for the Baccus and his teammates, his constant thirst for improvement will no doubt hold him in high regard as he continues to stake his claim for a place in the first team.
“You don’t want to say never and it’s good that Popa gives younger players a chance.
“There’s a few things physically I need to work on, in-game situations where players are bigger and stronger than you.
“But the best thing about this season is we’re getting used to winning and learning to grind out results which is important.”
You can watch Keanu ply his trade this Saturday at Blacktown Football park when the Wanderers take on Bankstown City. Kick-off is 7pm and entry is free for Members and U16s.