Guide to Socceroos v Bahrain: Everything you need to know

Craig Goodwin spoke to the press ahead of the Socceroos upcoming pre Asian Cup friendly against Bahrain

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Socceroos’ pre-Asian Cup friendly against Bahrain on January 7 (AEDT).

The Socceroos’ final tune-up for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup gets underway this weekend, when they take on Bahrain in Abu Dhabi.

Graham Arnold’s 26-man squad have descended upon the Middle East in the past week, as they gear up for a tilt at a second ever Asian Cup crown.

Ahead of their clash with Dilmun’s Warriors on Sunday morning (AEDT), here’s everything you need to know.

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When is the game?

Bahrain v Socceroos 
Saturday, 6 January
Baniyas Stadium, Abu Dhabi  
Kick-off: 6.00pm local/1.00am AEDT (Sunday, 7 January) 

How can I watch?

The match will be streamed live on Network 10, 10Play and Paramount+.

When do the Socceroos play at the Asian Cup?

Australia v India
Saturday, 13 January 2024
Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Syria v Australia
Thursday, 18 January 2024
Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Australia v Uzbekistan
Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Al Janoub Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: 2:30pm local (10:30pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

Team news

It will be a fascinating watch to see how Graham Arnold utilises his squad for the upcoming clash against Bahrain.

With the opening game against India less than a week after their warm-up friendly, Arnold will more than likely want to get an idea of what his best XI is for the tournament when they take the field in Abu Dhabi.

Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan is the only player coming into the tournament under an injury cloud after suffering a fractured cheekbone in training last month.

Mathew Ryan (left)

Arnold confirmed in his squad unveiling press conference that Ryan would more than likely sit out this weekend’s match, in order to be ready for their first group-stage fixture, where he will wear a mask to protect his injury.

This means one of Adelaide United’s Joe Gauci or Western Sydney Wanderers’ Lawrence Thomas are in line to start.

Midfielder Riley McGree has also had fitness concerns of his own, but recently returned to action with Middlesbrough, making three substitute appearances last month and will be hoping to get more minutes in the legs against Bahrain.

Uncapped trio Gethin Jones, Patrick Yazbek and John Iredale could also be in for their national team debuts before the tournament gets underway.

Australia’s AFC Asian Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan, Joe Gauci, Lawrence Thomas

Defenders: Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich, Nathaniel Atkinson, Gethin Jones, Jordan Bos, Thomas Deng, Cameron Burgess, Lewis Miller

Midfielders: Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Aiden O’Neill, Keanu Baccus, Connor Metcalfe, Patrick Yazbek

Forwards: Martin Boyle, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin, Kusini Yengi, John Iredale, Bruno Fornaroli, Sam Silvera, Marco Tilio

Opposition report

Bahrain

World Ranking: 86

Sunday morning’s clash isn’t only an Asian Cup tune-up for the Socceroos, but it also is for their opponents Bahrain who are gearing up for their eighth appearance at the tournament.

Bahrain qualified by finishing top of their group, winning all three of their matches against Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkmenistan in 2022.

They have since competed at the Arabian Gulf Cup, where they made it through to the semi-finals before being eliminated by Oman and had mixed results in their friendly matches throughout 2023 – winning three, drawing one and losing two.

The side coached by former Saudi Arabia boss Juan Antonio Pizzi most recently were in action in November in the first two matchdays of 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup qualifying, beating Yemen 2-0 but losing 2-0 to United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain have been drawn in Group E at the upcoming tournament, where they would fancy themselves to progress to the Round of 16 for the second successive time, coming up against one of the tournament favourites South Korea, Malaysia and Jordan.

The Socceroos and Bahrain have met five times throughout history, with Australia winning each of the five meetings. Their last meeting came in the 2011 Asian Cup group stage, where the Socceroos won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Mile Jedinak, which sealed their passage into the knockout stages.

Bahrain’s AFC Asian Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Sayed Mohammed Jaffer, Ibrahim Lutfalla, Abdulkarim Fardan

Defenders: Waleed Al Hayam, Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Bughammar, Sayed Baqer, Amine Benadi, Hazza Ali, Abdullah Al-Khalasi, Hussain Al-Eker

Midfielders: Kamil Al-Aswad, Jasim Al-Shaikh, Mohamed Marhoon, Mohamed Al-Hardan, Mohamed Abdulwahab, Jasim Khelaif, Moses Atede, Ibrahim Al-Wali, Mohammed Abdul Qayoom

Forwards: Ali Madan, Abduall Yusuf Helal, Mahdi Al-Humaidan, Ibrahim Al-Khatal, Abdullah Al-Hashsah, Ali Hassan Isa