Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Maty Ryan is relishing playing his part in Australia’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign under new coach Graham Arnold.
The Seagulls’ stopper and the Socceroos get their group campaign underway against Jordan tomorrow morning at 11am UK time, and Ryan spoke highly of the former Sydney FC boss ahead of his latest international duties.
He said, “We’ve had a change of head coach recently and he’s [Graham Arnold] someone I know very well from my time in Australia.
“I’ve followed his career since — he’s a manager I hold in high regard and I believe he’s very successful in what he does. His approach to the game and knowledge of the game, both as player and manager, is second to none.
“His ability to get the most out of each individual, in order to make a strong collective team, sets him apart from a lot of other coaches and I have no doubt whatsoever in his approach and philosophies.”
Arnold’s side also face Palestine and Syria in their other group contests, and Ryan – who played a vital part in his nation winning the last tournament in 2015, previewed the competitive nature of the sides involved this time around.
“There are a number of teams that have good players and good structures. You can talk about the big powerhouses in Asia being Japan, the United Arab Emirates hosting the tournament, they’re going to be strong.
“South Korea have been former finalists in the past as well, Iran themselves, Iraq — there’s a number of teams that on their day can be competitive – in our recent match against Syria, it took extra time in order to progress from that. I remember what a difficult match that was.
“There are no easy games and at the end of the day we’re going to concentrate on ourselves, with the focus of fulfilling our roles in what needs to be done in order to make us successful, but I’m pretty sure it’s the other teams that are going to be worrying about us.”
With Australia looking to defend their trophy in the United Arab Emirates, Ryan also reflected on the part that hosting such an event can play – citing it as being a key factor behind their success nearly four years ago.
“When you’re a footballer playing in this industry, you want to do anything you can to win games. You try to take advantage of anything that can help you, and home support is definitely a big factor.
“You get more comfort playing in your own country and stadiums. We took full advantage of that in 2015, but now it’s a challenge for us to overcome being an away team.
“I’m sure UAE are going to be looking to capitalise on that, but if we do what I know we can do, then I don't think that will be an issue for us.”
“I know my mum and sister are going over, and there will be a good number of Australians that are going - there are a lot of expats in that part of the world — we’ve been fortunate to have a good following as a nation, just like you saw with the Socceroos in the World Cup.”