Socceroos midfielder Riley McGree believes the side's camaraderie will help them overcome UAE as Australia endeavours to qualify for a fifth-straight World Cup.
Australia’s FIFA World Cup qualification campaign has reached its final stretch with the play-off against UAE on Wednesday morning at 4am (AEST) to decide the Green and Gold’s fate.
The Socceroos must defeat UAE at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium – a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ venue – to set up a winner-takes-all match-up against Peru a week later.
While the Socceroos are winless in their last three qualification matches, McGree believes the side’s mateship and togetherness will see them through the play-offs.
“Our togetherness is going to help us massively,” McGree said.
“We've got a great group with a great core.
We're all very close together and have been supporting each other along the way. We will definitely need that in the game against UAE.”
Following a breakout season in the English Championship with Birmingham City, McGree was rewarded with his first Socceroos cap against Kuwait in June last year.
Since then, the 23-year-old has gone on to make eight appearances for the national team.
He scored his maiden international goal in Australia’s 4-0 rout of Vietnam in January with his family watching on from the stands.
“To score for Australia was a huge moment,” McGree said.
After getting your first cap, you want to get a goal and that came so I'm very fortunate and very proud to be Australian.
“To share that moment with my family in the crowd as well was special.”
Having switched to Middlesbrough in January, McGree has already endeared himself to the Boro faithful despite enjoying limited time on the pitch time so far.
While he started life at his new club with appearances from the bench, the former Adelaide United man started Middlesbrough’s last five matches and scored two goals as they narrowly missed out on a play-off position.
Despite ending the Championship season in goalscoring form, McGree said he is focused on winning with the Socceroos against UAE rather than adding to his goals tally.
“Personal goals are not at the top of my list,” he explained.
“Regardless of who scores, regardless of who plays where and who plays in general, he just needs to win so whoever scores will be great.”
The Socceroos FIFA World-Cup Play-off match will be broadcast live and free on Australia's 'Home of Football,' Network Ten.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar (Play-Off)
Date: Wednesday, 8 June 2022
Venue: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Doha, Qatar
Kick-off: 4:00AM AEST
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on Network 10 and simulcast on Paramount+ and 10 Play