Once more against our biggest rival

Mathew Leckie breaks through the defence during the group stage match against Korea Republic. (Getty)

The 2015 Asian Cup final will be the latest chapter in a storied and oft overlooked rivalry between the Socceroos and Korea Republic, almost 50 years in the making.

This is not entirely new. Australia's rivalry with Korea Republic goes back a long, very long way. Neither will this year's Asian Cup final be Australia's first chance to win an international tournament among Asian nations.

On November 14, 1967, 47 years ago, Australia and South Korea met for the first time. It was the final of the Vietnam National Day tournament, among eight nations which included South Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand and Hong Kong. In Saigon Australia won the final 3-2, Billy Vojtek, Atti Abonyi and Johnny Warren scoring Australia's goals in front of 30,000 spectators.

With it Australia won its first ever international trophy. This is unforgivably ignored by many of Australian football's historians. Johnny Warren spoke to me about this event a lot, about the Socceroos' participation being part of the war effort, about the crowd hostilities experienced by the team when beating South Vietnam 1-0 - Warren scored the decider - and the Australian team coming of age as an international competitor.

South Korea was then to become a major role player in Australia's two subsequent World Cup efforts. In 1969, as part of the 1970 World Cup campaign, Australia had to travel to Seoul for a triangular showdown with South Korea  and Japan.

Australia beat Japan 3-1 and then overcame the Koreans 2-1 before being pelted with bottles by the locals. In the tournament decider Australia met Korea again at the Dongdaemun Stadium in a match Korea needed to win to advance. It was drawn 1-1 and Australia went on to meet Rhodesia and then Israel in an arduous and ultimately unsuccessful campaign.

In 1972, coach Joe Vlasits having been replaced by Rale Rasic, the Australians returned to Seoul for two friendlies. The first was drawn 1:1 with the Aussies winning the second 2-0.

A year later the Socceroos were again tangled up with the Taeguk Warriors and this time even more decisively. It was the campaign to reach the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany. At the tail end of a tough road for the Australians, which included two epic tussles against Iran, the last stand was to be between Australia and South Korea.

The first leg, in Sydney, was a classic even if it produced no goals. The Koreans, led by the tall Cha Bum Keun, probably their greatest ever centre forward, threw everything at the Australians with wave after wave of relentless attacking.

Mostly it was Jim Fraser, in quite the finest display of goalkeeping I have ever seen, who kept them out.
In the return in Seoul Australia looked to be going out as the Koreans took a 2-0 lead inside 30 minutes. But replies by Branko Buljevic and Ray Baartz forced a 2-2 draw.

With away goals not counting double in those days, it meant the stalemate had to be resolved in a third game at a neutral venue. Two days later the two teams lined up again in Hong Kong. Another 0-0 was brewing until 20 minutes from time when Jimmy Rooney lifted a chipped pass in front of Jim Mackay who smashed his volley into the net from 25 metres, steering Australia into the World Cup finals for the first time.

The two countries were brought together again in the next World Cup campaign and though Australia failed to qualify it retained its wood on what was by then Australia's biggest international rival. In the first of two meetings, in Sydney, a pair of goals by John Kosmina gave the Socceroos a 2-0 win. The return ended scoreless.

In 1982 there were two more Australian wins over South Korea in the Merlion Cup in Singapore. In 1987 the Koreans finally achieved their first victory over their annoying rival. At the newly inaugurated Olympic Stadium in Seoul, in the final of the Presidents Cup, the teams drew 1-1, the Koreans going on to win 5-4 on penalties.

There were then a host of internationals between the two countries but no competitive games until the 2001 Confederations Cup in Korea/Japan when the Aussies lost 1-0.

In the Asian Cup four years ago in Doha, the two teams drew their group match 1-1 (Mile Jedinak scoring for the Socceroos) and in an international in 2012 in Hwaesong the Aussies won 2-1. The last clash between the two countries before the current Asian Cup was in the 2013 East Asian Cup in Seoul where the teams again drew 0-0.

According to FIFA's records Australia and South Korea have met 26 times in 'A' internationals, making South Korea Australia's most common opponent after New Zealand. Australia won nine times, South Korea seven times while ten games were drawn. Australia scored 28 times, the Koreans 27.

Saturday's Asian Cup final will just be an extension of a long and splendid rivalry.