Asian Cup call-up for captain

Brisbane Roar skipper Matt McKay has been rewarded for a season of stellar performances in the Hyundai A-League, one of only four domestic-based players named in Holger Osieck’s 23-man Qantas Socceroos squad for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

Brisbane Roar skipper Matt McKay has been rewarded for a season of stellar performances in the Hyundai A-League, one of only four domestic-based players named in Holger Osieck-s 23-man Qantas Socceroos squad for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

Twelve days ahead of Australia-s opening match in Qatar, McKay was given confirmation of his selection yesterday after he was named in a 50-man provisional squad earlier in the month.

“It-s a big achievement for me, I always planned to hopefully make the squad and now to be named in it is great,” he said.

“It will be massive for Australian football if we can win this Asian Cup.

“It will open up a lot more paths with the Confederations Cup and stuff like that, so it-s definitely a big tournament.”

Qantas Socceroos coach Osieck will assemble the players for a pre-tournament training camp in Dubai from Monday before an international friendly against the UAE, a match McKay says he-ll use to make a push for significant role within the team.

“I don-t know about playing in the starting eleven but we-ve got a friendly against the UAE so hopefully I-ll get some minutes there and do my part,” he said.

“I definitely want to play some sort of part in the Asian Cup because it-s our big event behind the World Cup and the Socceroos have got ambitions to win it.”

After a disappointing 2007 tournament where Australia was knocked out by Japan in the quarter-finals, McKay said four years of experience playing against Asian opposition should see them fare better in the 2011 edition.

Australia will kick off their campaign against India on January 10, before taking on Korea Republic and Bahrain in their other Group C fixtures.

“It-s a big challenge for the whole squad to now go there and win the Asian Cup,” he said.

“I think the second time around, we-re a bit more aware of the conditions.

“We were very new to Asia back then and after another four years, our coaching staff and players know a lot more.”

While delighted with his selection in the national squad, McKay admitted the news was bittersweet given his club-s current rise to the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.

With just seven games left in the regular home and away season, the Roar captain will miss at least four fixtures in their run to the finals but has no doubts his side will be able to continue their impressive form without him.

“The squad is going so well and I-m happy to play my part,” McKay said.

“As captain I-m really enjoying my football but I-m sure the boys will be fine without me.”

The 27-year-old said Brisbane have proved this season that the depth in the squad is more than capable of accommodating for the loss of any players as they chase their first ever Hyundai A-League premiership.

“The players coming in will do great, Massimo (Murdocca) and Mitch (Nichols) have been superb all year and that won-t change,” McKay said.

“I want them to win every game - if the team is doing well, it-s good for me coming back and they-ve won four or five games.”

For more information on the Australia-s fixtures in the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, visit the Football Australia website.

Qantas Socceroos squad: Nathan BURNS (AEK Athens), Tim CAHILL (Everton FC), David CARNEY (Blackpool FC), Nathan COE (Sønderjysk Elitesport), Jason CULINA (Gold Coast United), Brett EMERTON (Blackburn ROVERS0, Richard GARCIA (Hull City FC), Brett HOLMAN (AZ Alkmaar), Mile JEDINAK (Genclerbirligi SK), Brad JONES (Liverpool FC), Harry KEWELL (Galatasaray SK), Neil KILKENNY (Leeds United FC), Robbie KRUSE (Melbourne Victory), Scott McDONALD (Middlesbrough FC), Jon McKAIN (Al Nassr), Matt McKAY (Brisbane Roar FC), Lucas NEILL (Galatasaray SK), Jade NORTH (Wellington Phoenix), Sasa OGNENOVSKI (Seongnam Ilhwa), Mark SCHWARZER (Fulham FC), Matthew SPIRANOVIC (Urawa Red Diamonds), Carl VALERI (U.S. Sassuolo Calcio), Luke WILKSHIRE (FK Dinamo Moscow)

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