Matt McKay says Thursday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan in Canberra feels like “coming home” for a lot of the Socceroos squad.
Like a host of other players in Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man squad, McKay spent some of his junior footballing days at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
The Brisbane Roar skipper was at the AIS in 2001 so knows the region and is delighted to be back for such an important game for the national team.
“And I was actually here for the last game against Malaysia [in 2011] when we won 5-0,” McKay recalled with reporters on Monday.
“We had great support then and this is obviously a more important game. That was a friendly so it’s great that we’re here in Canberra [again].
“A lot of the players and Socceroos have lived here before being at the AIS so it’s like coming home a bit.
"I’m really looking forward to it, playing on a good surface, a good stadium and hopefully a full crowd to help us get the three points.
“Obviously we had troubles against Kyrgyzstan away from home last time but back home in front of a big crowd, I’m positive we can put on a good performance and get the three points we need,” he added.
The Socceroos’ loss to Jordan in their last outing has made the need for victory against Kyrgyzstan paramount on Thursday night.
Another slip-up would make it extremely difficult to top the group, giving further importance to what they will encounter against Kyrgyzstan.
But McKay is adamant the players aren’t feeling any extra burden to perform now than any other time they are in camp.
“There’s always pressure on us to do well and we place that pressure on ourselves because we want to be better as a side,” he said.
“We want to be better as individuals, but more as a team. Those away games are always difficult and we just didn’t adapt to that [against Jordan] and the tests we did have.
“There’s some boys coming in that wouldn’t have been happy with their performances last time and they will want to rectify that and I’m sure we will.”
While admitting the Socceroos were a little lucky in their 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan in their last qualifier, McKay feels the side will be far greater prepared this time around.
“We didn’t have any footage of them the last time we played and also since then they have played another three games,” the 32-year-old explained.
“We know a lot more about them. They have extremely good wingers and that was an area of their strengths last time and they really utilised those players.
“I’m sure we’ll do our homework and be ready. We’re a lot more comfortable here in Australia, we know what to expect and we have our home crowd…it’s a positive for us.”