Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan at the Adelaide Oval will be an extra special occasion for defender Ryan McGowan as he prepares for his homecoming.
McGowan, who provided the assist for Tim Cahill’s incredible goal against Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup, is the only member of the squad born in Adelaide.
And the 26-year-old is desperate to make the most of his return home by helping the Socceroos – who top Group B by two points ahead of Jordan – to a valuable victory on Thursday.
“It’s great to be back in Adelaide where I’ve grown up and first started playing football,” McGowan told reporters.
“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.
“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, said he has already started “wheeling and dealing” with team-mates for extra tickets to give to his friends and family.
And the Henan Jianye defender is hopeful he will get a shot from the start against the Tajiks, especially now there is 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.
He admitted 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 a more complete defender.
For now though, he is focused on completing the job with the Socceroos, with wins against Tajikistan and Jordan (March 29 in Sydney) to ensure they top the group heading into the final round of qualifying in Asia.
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