Australia’s squad for the 2014 World Cup has been named and Shandong Luneng’s Ryan McGowan was not shocked by booking his place in Ange Postecoglu’s side, he revealed exclusively to Wild East Football.
“I’m not really that surprised, the coach has said all along that if you are playing regularly for your club it doesn’t matter where you are playing you have a good chance of being selected,” said the 24 year old.
Australia kick things off in June with arguably the toughest group of the tournament where they face Chile and both finalists of the 2010 World Cup, Spain and The Netherlands. McGowan remains in high spirits despite the tough task at hand.
“We’re in a really difficult group but we’re not just going there for the experience, we’re going out there to test ourselves and see where we are. We’re playing against three of the top sides in the world so we know how big a challenge it’s going to be but hopefully we can surprise a few people,” he said.
With McGowan not the only player to book his spot whilst playing for a Chinese side, the former Hearts of Midlothian man is sure this only further supports the growing quality in Chinese football.
“It shows how strong the Chinese league is; a lot of people don’t know too much about Chinese football and don’t understand the quality here.”
“As a defender I really enjoy it, you are coming up against some really good quality strikers and you have to be on the top of your game to hold them out and perform well for your club,” he said.
On a club level, McGowan points to a fixture pile up that has had a negative effect on their league form, Shandong sit fourth in the Chinese Super League 10 points off league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande after only 12 games and were eliminated from the Asia Champions League at the group stage.
“We had 14 games in a 6 week period with the Asia Champions League and that’s a lot of games for any kind of squad and we’ve struggled with the amount of games.”
“It’s pretty obvious that we’ve had a difficult start to the season, last season we did very well but just had the league to concentrate on. We’ve brought in a new coach and new players and it takes time for the players to get used to the new coach and his new style,” he said.
Shandong Luneng will face Guangzhou R&F at home and Guizhou Renhe away without McGowan as he joins up with the Australia squad in preparation for their World Cup opener against Chile on June 13th.
Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. He can be found on Twitter and Weibo at @peteydavis
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