On the day of Australia’s most important football tournament outside the 1974 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, the PFA sends its best wishes to coach Graham Arnold and the 23 Socceroos given the honour of not only representing Australia’s 310 professional footballers and millions of football fans, but Australia’s future engagement with Asia.

Our Asian future is in safe hands – Socceroo Carl Valeri illustrates the depth of our AFC Asian Cup squad
(Photographer – Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The 2007 AFC Asian Cup will be a football test of the highest order.  Australia enters the tournament as Asia’s third highest FIFA ranked team, behind Japan and Iran.  The tournament also includes Saudi Arabia and South Korea, two nations with extensive World Cup pedigree.  The tournament will be played in extremely difficult climatic conditions, and involve an extraordinary range of football styles and pedigrees.

For Australia, the tournament is about our Asian future and the opportunities this presents, in terms of regular competition, a new qualifying route to the World Cup and the development of a deep squad of internationally talented players capable of representing Australia in matches across the huge Asian confederation.  But for the many of the players, it must be about now.  The 2007 AFC Asian Cup is Australia’s best opportunity of competing for internationally respected silverware for what has been one of Australia’s greatest generation of players.

The PFA looks forward to the next three weeks where, under the leadership of skipper Mark Viduka, the Socceroos will once again be great ambassadors for Australia and represent the country with spirit, class and energy.  In three weeks time, we look forward to a nation with an even stronger football culture and deeper links with our Asian neighbours.