"Welcome to Asia" Aussies - This is your future

With the Asian Cup tournament less than four months awa, Australian national coach Graham Arnold has tagged his Socceroo’s mini-training camp in Hong Kong as Welcome to Asia Week. “This is something we’re going to come up against in the World Cup qualifiers. When you look at our World Cup qualifying program, the players are going to have to do flights across from Europe and we’re going to have to gather, if we play an east Asian country, in Hong Kong or Singapore for two or three days while we get visas and then move across to the country we’re playing in. This is a perfect dress rehearsal for what we’re going to come up against in 2008 and 2009 for our World Cup qualifiers,” he said.

The final four members of the 20-player squad — Mark Viduka, Mark Schwarzer, Brad Jones and Carl Valeri — arrived in Hong Kong yesterday, with Arnold able to hold his first tactical sessions on the artificial surface at the Happy Valley racecourse. The squad — which is without several World Cup stars — will be driven across into China today where Arnold will finalise preparations for the game at Saturday’s venue in Guangzhou. Despite being understrength against China, Arnold said it was vital the Socceroos performed well to maintain an air of dominance in the region. “I want to win every game and I put the expectation level on the players as well,” Arnold said.