The Socceroos are expecting a warm welcome from Kyrgyzstan as the Central Asian nation prepares for its biggest ever home FIFA World Cup qualifier.
The Australian squad arrived in Bishkek after travelling from Dubai on Sunday, ahead of Tuesday’s (kick-off midnight AEST) opening 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Kyrgyzstan are an unknown to the Socceroos camp, ranked 177th in the world but fresh from a solid 3-1 win away to Bangladesh in Dhaka.
The Central Asian side have competed in World Cup qualifiers since the France 1998 campaign, but have never progressed to the final round of qualifying.
The current Asian champions Australia are clearly the highest-profile side to journey to Bishkek and striker Tomi Juric said he expected local excitement.
“We’re expecting a warm welcome,” Juric said. “I hear that there are a lot of people interested in this game.
“Apparently Australia coming to Kyrgyzstan is the biggest thing which has happened for this country in a long time.
“It’s going to be exciting to see how things turn out."
We arrived in Bishkek overnight. Time to finalise our preparations ahead of our World Cup qualifier vs. Kyrgyzstan! pic.twitter.com/HyXv9ZvhHg
— Socceroos (@Socceroos) June 14, 2015
The Socceroos have spent the past 10 days in Dubai, initially working on fitness programs as well as a lot of passing and movement drills, before switching the focus to the tactical side later in the camp.
Australia’s coaches looked over Kyrgyzstan’s win over Bangladesh and provided video analysis for the playing group late in the week.
“Obviously we didn’t know much about the opponent heading into the game but we’ve done a bit of research and we’ve got some information now,” Juric said.
“We know what to expect and where we can hurt them. We’re looking forward to the game now and we’re positive we’ll go out there and get the result we’re looking for.”
Turkey-based full-back Aziz Behich added that they expected the home side to make life difficult for the Socceroos.
“We’ve done a bit of video analysis on them. They’re going to fight against us,” he said.
“They’re playing at home, so we are expecting a tough game but we approach every game the game, so it’s not going to be any different.”
— Aziz Behich (@AzizBehich) June 14, 2015