McKay poised to overtake a legend


Brisbane Roar captain Matt McKay will surpass the legendary Col Bennett as Queensland’s second most decorated Socceroo if he plays in tonight’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek.

McKay currently has 55 caps – the same as Bennett, although the former Brisbane Lions central defender’s national career included 32 full internationals and 23 so-called “B” internationals as some Socceroo games were classified in the 1970s and earlier.

The most decorated Queensland footballer is Frank Farina, who played for Australia 67 times including 37 full internationals.

Also in the Queensland plus-50 club is former Roar captain Craig Moore (54 appearances including 52 full caps). So too is new Brisbane Roar Head Coach John Aloisi (57/55), although he is Adelaide-born.

Although Bennett was NSW-born, he played the majority of his senior football in Queensland and captained the Maroons several times in matches against NSW and touring international and club sides.

On the eve of McKay surpassing his national team achievements, Bennett, now 64, today recalled coaching the tireless midfielder when he was a junior at Mount Gravatt Hawks.

“Matty was half the size of everyone else but you could see the big engine in him then,” Bennett said.

“He would run and run and run and when he got knocked over by the bigger guys he just got up and ran again.

“As a 12-year-old he always gave 100 per cent in every game he played and that has continued throughout his career.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to pass my number of caps than Matty – good on him.”

McKay, 32, is facing tough competition within the Socceroos squad for Starting XI selection tonight as coach Ange Postecoglou prepares his team to get off to a winning start as they bid to qualify for Russia in 2018.

The pitch is Bishkek is bumpy and is expected to deteriorate further with the forecast of rain.

New Brisbane Roar Head Coach John Aloisi will be among the commentary team for Fox Sports (Channel 505) ‘live coverage of the match. Pre-game is from 11.30pm with the kick-off scheduled for midnight. The match is also on SBS on one-hour delay.