Thursday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan at the Adelaide Oval will be an extra special occasion for Caltex Socceroos defender Ryan McGowan.
The 26-year-old, who provided the assist for Tim Cahill's incredible goal against Holland at the Brazil World Cup in 2014, is the only member of the current squad born in the City of Churches.
And he is desperate to make the most of his return home by helping the Socceroos to a valuable three points.
“It’s great to be back in Adelaide where I’ve grown up and first started playing football.
“Its amazing 10 years ago I left here with a dream of becoming a professional footballer and international footballer and now hopefully the next time I’m back and play is for the national team,” a clearly excited McGowan told reporters on Thursday.
“Adelaide’s a great footballing town. You only have to see with our population and crowds we get for Adelaide United and any time the Socceroos have come.
“If we can get 35,000-40,000 on Thursday night it will be unbelievable for this city and the boys will really appreciate that type of support and hopefully we can put in a good show and good performance for them.”
McGowan, the brother of Adelaide United's Dylan, says he’s already started “wheeling and dealing” with team-mates for extra tickets to give to his friends and family.
- McGowan believes the pristine Adelaide Oval surface will help the Socceroos passing game on Thursday night
- The defender expects Tajikistan to employ a defensive game plan and try and hit the Socceroos on the counter-attack.
- He admits he has thought about the possibility of playing alongside brother Dylan in the Hyundai A-League one day.
And the Henan Jianye defender is hopeful he’ll get a shot from the start against the Tajiks, especially now there’s an opening in the back four after Matthew Spiranovic withdrew with a calf injury.
“Anytime someone drops out of the squad or isn’t available that’s classed as a starter it does open a few windows for other players,” he said.
“All I can do is train the next couple of days and hopefully force my way into the starting 11, and if not, make sure I'm ready if I'm coming off the bench or for whatever role I need to play."
McGowan is certainly battled hardened, having played regularly with Dundee United until January before moving to the Chinese Super League club.
He admits the dramatic influx of money and world-class players to China over the last few months has been beneficial for his game and made him more complete defender.
For now though he is focused on completing the job with the Socceroos, with wins against Tajikistan and Jordan to ensure they top the group heading into the final round of qualifying.
About half the squad has so far assembled in Adelaide and they will undertake a light training session at Adelaide Oval on Monday afternoon.
The entire squad will then hit the track together on Tuesday, with the gates to be thrown open to fans to watch Ange Postecoglou put them through their paces.
History repeats: the stats you need to know ahead of Kuwait v Caltex Socceroos
It’s nearly time – your Caltex Socceroos go head to head with Kuwait on Tuesday morning (3.30am AEDT). Anticipation for the start of the Graham Arnold era has been rising for some time now, but it all finally gets underway on the pitch in Australia’s clash with the Middle East
Arnold challenges his Caltex Socceroos to show their quality against Kuwait
The preparations are complete and new boss Graham Arnold now wants his Caltex Socceroos to show their quality in Tuesday morning’s (AEDT) friendly against Kuwait. Australian football’s new era gets underway at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium as Arnold takes charge of his fir
‘It will be free-flowing attacking football’: Rogic set to thrive in Arnold’s Caltex Socceroos
Tom Rogic is relishing the freedom he’ll have in Graham Arnold’s attack-minded Caltex Socceroos game-plan which is set to be unleashed against Kuwait on Tuesday morning (AEDT). Arnold takes charge of his first match in charge of the national team tomorrow in a vital pre-AFC As
Camp in quotes: Attack-minded sessions have Caltex Socceroos raring to go
Attack has been the focus of the latest Caltex Socceroos camp and, as a result, the mood among the players is one of excitement and anticipation. The excitement comes from not just the latest camp, in the United Arab Emirates ahead of Tuesday morning’s (AEDT) showdown with Kuw