Global news

Australia desperate for North Korea scalp

December 5, 2012
By ESPN staff

Australia face North Korea in the second match of their East Asian Cup qualifying campaign aware that anything less than a win could rule them out of next year's tournament.

Brett Emerton Socceroos
GettyImagesBrett Emerton scored the winner in Australia's 1-0 win over Hong Kong on Monday

The Socceroos are vying for a place in the 2013 East Asian Cup, with Taiwan, Guam, Hong Kong and North Korea standing in their way.

Holger Osieck's side looked far from convincing as they limped to a 1-0 win over hosts Hong Kong on Monday and the Koreans have staked their claim early by easily claiming the scalps of Taiwan and Guam in their opening two maches.

The winner of the five-team group will be rewarded with a spot at the finals next July and Australian midfielder Matt McKay recognises that the Socceroos can't leave anything down to chance.

"It's pretty important to win this game," he said."It could come down to goal difference if it's a draw and they've done really well in their first two games and we didn't put as many past Hong Kong as we would have liked.

"So it's very important to get the three points and we know that. I guess it is a must-win but it's a small tournament so they're all must-wins really."

North Korea have not been beaten in their last 11 international matches and McKay - who plays for South Korean club Busan I Park - knows that their two dominant performances this week are a testament to the national structure.

"I play in South Korea so I know the kind of philosophy that they have," he said. "They're very disciplined and North Korea are no different. They'll work hard, structurally they'll be sound so we've just got to work hard defensively.

"If we can defend well it will give us the opportunities to go forward and I think we've got the players to really create chances."

18-year-old Tom Rogic is likely to feature for the Socceroos after impressing during his 10-minute cameo against Hong Kong, while midfielder Aaron Mooy could make his international debut against the Koreans.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.