Socceroos to return to action with Korea clash


Australia are set to renew their rivalry with regional powerhouse Korea Republic in June, as they return to action for the first time since the AFC Asian Cup.

While the friendly fixture has not been officially confirmed, it’s likely Graham Arnold’s men will take on Paulo Bento’s outfit on June 8, probably in Seoul, in the second meeting between the two nations inside seven months.

The pair last faced off in Brisbane in November, in an Asian Cup warm-up where a last-gasp Massimo Luongo goal rescued a 1-1 draw for the Socceroos in Arnold’s second game at the helm.

Both teams bowed out at the quarter-final stage in the UAE in January, Australia beaten 1-0 by the hosts with the Koreans falling by the same score to eventual champions Qatar.

Eyebrows were raised by some when the Socceroos - who are now building towards the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar - went fixture-less during last month’s FIFA window.

On that occasion coach Graham Arnold, whose job shares masterminding the Olyroos, was otherwise engaged in Cambodia guiding the Under-23s to the final stage of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

But he is keen to re-engage with the senior team at the earliest opportunity after injuries to potent weapons Aaron Mooy, Martin Boyle and Daniel Arzani did nothing to aid the Socceroos’ cause in the UAE.

Mooy is back in action for relegated Huddersfield, whilst Boyle and Arzani are both well on the road to recovery from serious knee injuries and should be ready for the start of World Cup qualifying later in the year.

Australia, ranked 42 by FIFA, have won 13, lost 10 and drawn seven of their 30 meetings with the the 38th ranked Koreans.

With the friendly in both the off-season for Europe and the A-League, Arnold will be forced to field a side short of match sharpness, and may opt to take a look at Asian-based players like K League 1-based striker Adam Taggart, who netted a double for new club Suwon Bluewings at the weekend.