Rhyan Grant says the start of the Caltex Socceroos’ AFC Asian Cup campaign is starting to feel real after the Australian squad arrived in Al Ain ahead of Sunday’s tournament opener against Jordan.
Graham Arnold’s squad wrapped up their pre-tournament training camp in Dubai and arrived in Al Ain on Wednesday afternoon (local time) to a fantastic welcome.
Representatives from Al Ain Football Club, the Al Ain Government, and members of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Local Organising Committee (LOC) were on hand to greet the squad.
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And with just a few days until their opening game against Jordan at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Grant admits excitement is building ahead of the opening match.
“Obviously it’s [the tournament] only a couple of days away now so to arrive in the place that our first game is exciting and it’s not far away, so everyone is pretty keen,” Grant told www.socceroos.com.au.
The right-back added: “It [the team’s welcome in Al Ain] was pretty cool.
“I think everyone got a little flower each and got to shake the locals’ hands with the welcome.
“So that sort of adds to the excitement too that it’s finally here.”
Grant said the squad were feeling refreshed and relaxed after a “timely” day off from training on New Years’ Day.
The Sydney FC star, who along with the Western Sydney Wanderers’ Josh Risdon will be Arnold’s options at right-back for the tournament, made his second appearance in the green and gold in Sunday’s 5-0 win over Oman.
While delighted with the result and performance, Grant believes there is still more to give from the Caltex Socceroos heading into AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.
“There is a lot to build on and ‘Arnie’ [Graham Arnold] let us know that we’ve got a lot more in our tank and a lot more to build on,” the 27-year-old said.
“So, it was a good start for us but we are keen to get back on the pitch and really work on things and make sure that we are in really good touch come the start of the tournament.”