Argentina clash to open opportunities for Socceroos

·3-min read

Football Australia hope the Socceroos' match against world champions Argentina in Beijing can open the door for games against big-name opponents on home soil and a seat at football's top table.

The friendly at the newly-renovated Workers' Stadium will go ahead on June 15, little more than six months after the No.1 ranked  Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in the World Cup round of 16 in Qatar.

Chief executive James Johnson revealed FA had started their pursuit of Argentina before they'd even played in Qatar.

"We've hunted them around the world," Johnson told reporters.

"We did try to bring them back to Australia at one point in March. It didn't work out for us. There was one stage where we were going to play them in the United States and that didn't work out.

"So we ended up in China, which we're very happy about - because we landed the big elephant."

Johnson cited high-ranking women's teams like Sweden first facing the Matildas overseas, then in Australia, over the past three years as a blueprint for securing more important fixtures on home soil.

"If I go back to where we started with the women's side, in March 2021, we weren't actually able to get big sides back ... we weren't playing them in Australia," he said.

"So it does take a while. But I do think if we become a regular team in the upper echelon of world football, then coming out to Australia, despite its distance, may not seem so far for people."

The 29th-ranked Socceroos also have a friendly against England at Wembley in October as preparation for the Asian Cup and their World Cup qualifiers.

Johnson wouldn't be drawn on whether the England and Argentina friendlies could boost a potential bid for the 2034 men's World Cup but believed it could help the country be taken seriously as a football nation.

"If you want a seat at the world football table, these are the things you've got to do," he said.

"You've got to host big competitions, like the Women's World Cup. You've got to play big opposition like Argentina, you've got to play at Wembley - you've got to do that.

"On the women's side, you've got to play the best in the world, you've got to play the United States.

"If you look at all these examples, in isolation, you might not see the strategy. If you bring it all together, though, there is an undertone which is, 'We're Australia, we're here, we're at the seat now and we want to stay at the world table'."

Johnson believed Australia was in a similar position to the US or Japan on the world stage.

"Perhaps in the past we've been in the passenger seat. Right now we're able to drive issues," he said.

"I do think that is the perception outside of Australia and I hope that we can build that perceived perception within Australia, because I think we're a rising power in world football and that's where we should be."