Kuwait star Mashaan says Socceroos under pressure

Aziz Mashaan and Kuwait team-mates on the plane to Australia (Picture supplied)

Kuwait midfielder Aziz Mashaan said all the pressure will be on Australia when the two teams clash in the opening match of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

The Socceroos will face the Kuwaitis in Melbourne on 9 January in the first match of Group A that also comprises Oman and Korea Republic.

Mashaan, who plays his club football for Al Qadsia in the Kuwaiti Premier League, said he and his national team-mates were looking forward to the clash that is expected to draw a full house at Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park).

"It is going to be a tough match for both teams and I believe we can cause the Australians a few problems," Mashaan, 26, said.

"In the opening match of a major tournament surprises can happen.

"And this should make Australia more nervous than us so anything is possible.

"I would not go as far as to say that we will have nothing to lose because we are preparing for this match very well and we want to play a good match and earn a result, of course."

Mashaan said he expected the Kuwaitis to give a good account of themselves in the Asian Cup even though he acknowledges the strength of the Socceroos side.

"The Australians have a team of great experienced players like Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak," he said.

"Their No 7 (Matthew Leckie) is a great player and for me he is the most dangerous player.

"The Socceroos would have to be favourites to reach the knockout phase if we take history into consideration.

"But the way I see it all the four teams in the group have a chance to qualify.

"We are a great team with a mixture of young and old and we all have big ambitions.

"We play our football on the ground with great skills and our strongest department is our midfield."

This will be the third competitive fixture between the Socceroos and Kuwaitis since Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.

In 2009 Kuwait beat Australia 1-0 in Canberra in an Asian Cup qualifier and the two teams drew 2-2 when they met again in Kuwait City in 2010.

The Kuwaitis remember their win in Canberra with pride and fondness.

"We all talk about that win and it gives us encouragement but the next match is totally different and we have to deliver on the field," Mashaan said.

Mashaan, who has played for Mouscron in Belgium and Pribram (formerly Dukla Praha) in the Czech Republic, will be a free agent in January and is keen to have another go abroad.

"At the end of January I hope to move back to Europe or somewhere outside Kuwait so the Asian Cup could give me an opportunity to further my career abroad," he said.

Mashaan, who played in Kuwait's 1-1 draw with Iraq in Sharjah on Monday (AEDT), rates Japan as the favourite to win the cup at Stadium Australia in Sydney on 31 January.

"Japan as usual are always the number one team but Iran are a strong side too," he said.

Source: SBS