The wait for the Asian Cup is finally over and we’ll be excited as anyone at Strathfield Sports Club tonight, when the tournament officially gets under way with a glittering Opening Ceremony in Melbourne.
The Socceroos will then play host to Kuwait in the opening match of Asia’s continental cup, with Australia also set to play Oman in Sydney before their final mouth-watering Group A clash against Korea Republic on Saturday 17 January.
A record 800 million football fans from more than 120 countries are expected to tune in to tournament, which will feature 16 teams and 32 matches in 23 days throughout January.
There are five host cities for the event with Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne all hosting matches featuring the best teams in Asia, with over 550,000 fans expected to attend overall.
Tonight’s game will see the Socceroos desperate to put to bed their record from last year with a win in front of their home fans but it will not be easy against a Kuwait side that hold a strong record against Australia.
The Socceroos have won just one of their previous six competitive meetings with Kuwait, with the visitors claiming a recent win on Australian soil in Canberra in 2009.
A regenerated Aussie squad have enjoyed an uninterrupted preparation but coach Ange Postecoglou has given nothing away in terms of how his starting XI will look tonight.
“Obviously I’ve got an idea of who – we’ve obviously got a session to get tonight [Thursday] and there’s always game day which sometimes throws up some curve balls, but I’ve a pretty clear idea of who’ll start tomorrow night,” said Postecoglou ahead of tonight’s match.
“Certainly the majority of the starting XI will those who’ve been with us for the last 12 months and would be familiar with the system.
“But having said that training form and condition of the players comes into it.
“They’re ready to go… and I’m confident the XI we put out tomorrow night will be good enough to get us off to a good start.”
Tonight’s match kicks off at 8pm and we’ll have all the colour and coverage from the pre-game ceremony from 7pm in the clubhouse. We hope to see you down here and throughout January for what promises to be the biggest event Australia has hosted since the 2000 Olympics.