Socceroos primed for 'big contender' Korea Republic


The Socceroos couldn't ask for a better reference on their Asian Cup hopes than Saturday's friendly with regional heavyweights Korea Republic.

The clash in Brisbane is the first time the nations have faced each other since Australia's dramatic 2-1 victory in the 2015 Asian Cup final.

The Suncorp Stadium friendly will be the key test for Graham Arnold's men ahead of the defence of their Asian crown in the UAE in January.

The circumstances couldn't be much different to the comfortable 4-0 victory Arnold achieved in his first match in charge of the Socceroos against Kuwait in October.

The only other match Australia will play between now and their Asian Cup opener against Jordan on January 6 is Tuesday's clash with Lebanon in Sydney - a game that is largely a testimonial for retiring champion Tim Cahill.

Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who sat out the win over Kuwait, knows Saturday's game is a crucial one for the Socceroos against one of their main rivals for the Asian Cup.

"Obviously the last Asian Cup campaign ourselves and them were in the final," Ryan said on Wednesday.

"That says enough about how they're going to be a big contender for the tournament also.

"It's going to be down to us to go out there and make it a difficult night for them."

The Koreans landed in Brisbane on Monday without Premier League stars Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng.

Paulo Bento's men still boast plenty of pedigree, however, with Jung Seung-hyun, Lee Chung-yong, Koo Ja-cheol, Kim Jung-min and Hwang Hee-chan all based in Europe.

Ryan, a member of the 2015 Asian Cup-winning squad, says he's been impressed by the changes to the national team set-up under Arnold.

A teenage Ryan was handed his senior debut by Arnold at the Central Coast Mariners in 2010.

The pair narrowly missed out on winning the 2011 A-League grand final with the Mariners and the Brighton custodian says he expects Arnold to deliver a winning culture for the Socceroos.

"I'm really excited about the present and the future moving forward with the national team," Ryan said.

"He's (Arnold) demonstrated time and time again how successful he can be as a manager.

"I've no doubts he's going to bring the same kind of success to us here as a national team."

Source AAP