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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Socceroos need win over North Korea

By Angela Habashy

Anything less than a win against their toughest opponents North Korea on Wednesday night could spell disaster for Australia's East Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

The Koreans have burst out of the blocks in their bid to reach next year's showpiece, having already trounced Taiwan 6-1 and Guam 5-0.

Australia however, only just managed a 1-0 win over the 172nd-ranked hosts Hong Kong on Monday night courtesy of a late goal from veteran Brett Emerton.

But with only one team to advance to the finals, the Socceroos can ill-afford even a draw in Wednesday's marquee match, with North Korea's already superior goal difference putting them in the box seat to finish top of the ladder.

"It's pretty important to win this game," former Brisbane Roar star Matt McKay 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."

Led by Jong Su Yun, 81st-ranked North Korea are unbeaten in their past 11 international matches - winning nine and drawing twice.

Surprisingly defender Myong Jun Ri has been their top scorer so far this tournament, bagging a brace in each of their opening two fixtures.

J-League stars Ryang Yong Song and An Yong Ha have also been impressive and could cause headaches for the world No.33 Australians.

McKay, who currently plays for South Korean club Busan I Park, is well aware of the type of well-organised, determined side they'll encounter.

"I play in South Korea so I know that 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."

Teen sensation Tom Rogic is one such player.

The Socceroos tyro had an instant impact in his 10-minute cameo late against Hong Kong, producing a shot at goal with his first touch.

With Australia lacking pace and creativity in the front third during their opening clash, the Central Coast playmaker is a likely starter against North Korea.




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