Korea game is no friendly: Socceroos coach

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says there is a lot at stake in their friendly against South Korea.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says there is a lot at stake in their friendly against South Korea.

Bullish Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says Saturday's clash with South Korea is no friendly as Australia enter the final stage of their Asian Cup preparations.

The Suncorp Stadium game is the first time the two Asian heavyweights have met since the 2015 Asian Cup final in Sydney, won by the Socceroos 2-1.

The penultimate fixture for Australia before the 2019 Asian Cup begins in January in the UAE, Saturday's game represents Arnold's biggest test before the tournament.

The Taegeuk Warriors famously eliminated then world champions Germany with a 2-0 group stage win in this year's World Cup and are one of the main rivals to Australia for the Asian championship.

"We know the Asian Cup is just around the corner, in my view, there is no friendly games, it's all about winning," Arnold said.

"It's all about building that belief and confidence in everything we're practising."

German-based winger Robbie Kruse may not be in contention for a start in his hometown given he only arrived in Australia on Wednesday.

Otherwise Arnold has a full squad to choose from with Scottish-born winger Martin Boyle expected to make his Socceroos debut after receiving his Australian passport since October's 4-0 win over Kuwait.

Another former Brisbane Roar hero, striker Jamie Maclaren, is likely to be given a chance to prove his credentials ahead of the Asian Cup as he aims to score his first Socceroos goal.

Australia's captain is also yet to be finalised as the quest for a replacement to retired Mile Jedinak continues.

Mark Milligan led the team against Kuwait but Arnold said he hadn't finalised who'd wear the armband on Saturday night with defender Trent Sainsbury, goalkeeper Mat Ryan, winger Mathew Leckie and Kruse the contenders.

Saturday's game will also represent Arnold's first match as full-time Socceroos coach at home, a moment he said was personally exciting.

"Personally it's an extremely proud moment," he said.

"I played for the country. I captained the country and now I can coach the country. It's a proud moment for myself but I can guarantee one thing, all I'm focused on is winning and making sure these boys are ready to go out there."

South Korea are without English Premier League stars Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng while FC Tokyo defender Jang Hyun-soo is also absent after being slapped with a lifetime ban by the Korean FA for doctoring community service records.

Kruse's VFL Bochum teammate Lee Chung-yong is one of three German-based players in the visitors' squad while Suk Hyun-jun plays for French Ligue 1 team Stade de Reims and Kim Jung-min is based in Austria.

South Korea have played Australia in Brisbane twice, losing 2-1 in friendly in 1997 before defeating the Socceroos 1-0 in the group stages of the 2015 Asian Cup.

Australian Associated Press