As one of two Socceroos currently playing their club football in Japan, Adam Taggart has been the centre of attention in the lead up to Tuesday's huge FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
The former K-League and A-League frontman has been an essential part of the Socceroos squad who continued their extraordinary win streak with a win over Oman last week.
Whilst the striker is set to finding himself on the scoresheet during round three of qualifying, his tactical versatility and awareness have allowed the side to prosper during the Green and Gold’s record-breaking eleven victories in a row.
Taggart, who currently plies his trade for Cerezo Osaka in the J.League, provided an insight in what it is like to play his club football in a nation that will this week be considered enemy territory for the Socceroos.
“Growing up as a kid and watching all of these big games with Australia and Japan, it’s always been pretty clear to everyone the rivalry and competition between the two nations,” he said.
After being there as well, particularly in the last couple of weeks leading up into this game, there’s been a lot of questions and talk about it and the Japanese have always mentioned people like Tim Cahill and how tough Australia has been for them.
“In all of those chats and interviews, I’ve always said how much everyone’s looking forwards to it because it’s a massive game and everyone’s buzzing for it.
“It’s a great opportunity for a massive match, and another one we expect to win and give our all. We’re confident in what we can do.”
With Japan having only picked up three points in as many games in the third qualifying round, there is certainly pressure on the Samurai Blue to perform against the Socceroos on home soil.
But Taggart and his teammates a determined to give everything they’ve got as they approach a fixture that has historically sprung up its fair share of challenges for Australia.
“They (Japan) are a top opposition,” he said.
“They’ve got some great individual players, and a lot are doing really well over in Europe at the moment.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure on them with these poor results they’ve had, and for us, as I said, we’ve got a winning mentality where we’re confident in what we can do even if we don’t play so well.”
Taggart attributes the Socceroos’ hot run of form to the team spirit that Graham Arnold has grown within the squad.
“It goes to show our winning mentality,” he said.
“The whole mental and attitude side of things here is massive with Arnie, and it works.
“Even in games like against Oman, where it wasn’t so pretty, we’re still able to get the result and that’s the main thing.
“We’ve got a great group and a close bunch of mates really, so we’re looking forward to a big game and can’t wait to get stuck in.”
The Socceroos will face Japan on Tuesday, the 12th of October, at 9:14 pm AEDT.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Final Round)
Matchday 4: Japan v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan
Kick-off: 7.14pm local (9.14pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on 10 Bold and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 8.30pm AEDT