Brisbane Roar’s Matt McKay is in line for his 50th Socceroos cap as Australia prepares for their final match before January’s AFC Asian Cup, against Japan tonight in Osaka.
McKay was a standout performer for Australia at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil earlier this year but has not featured for the national team since due to minor ankle surgery in the Hyundai A-League pre-season.
The Brisbane-born midfielder said he never thought he’d reach 50 appearances for his country, having to wait almost three years between his national team debut in August 2006 and his second cap in January 2009.
“I was happy just to get the first and I didn’t think I’d get past that so if I get a game and get my 50th cap, I’ll be pretty happy,” McKay said.
“But more importantly, I want the team to progress, we’ve got to improve because come Asian Cup, we’re going to be under pressure and in front of our home fans, we want to do everyone proud.”
It was during Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou’s time as Roar coach that McKay really broke into the national team, playing a vital role in Australia’s road to the AFC Asian Cup final against Japan in January 2011.
He provided the vital assist to Harry Kewell’s goal in the quarter final over Iraq, set up three goals in the 6-0 semi final win over Uzbekistan and played 120 minutes in the final against the Blue Samurai.
McKay was eager for his Australia side to go one better in the 2015 edition of the tournament, especially with the tournament on home soil, and cited defending champions Japan as one of their main threats.
“They’ve got some good players, playing in good leagues around the world,” McKay said of Tuesday’s opponents, who warmed up for the clash against Australia with a 6-0 thumping of Honduras at Toyota Stadium.
“We’re going to have to be on top of our game – they are definitely one of the front runners for the Asian Cup so this will give us a good yardstick as to where we are at and what we need to improve on.”
The Socceroos play Japan tonight, Tuesday, 18 November in what will be their last hit-out before Australia hosts the AFC Asian Cup in January.
The match will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS 505 (FOX SPORTS 4HD & 4) from 8pm (AEST).