Mabil to fly Aussie flag in Champs League

Midtjylland's Awer Mabil is the lone Australian in this season's Champions League group stage.
Midtjylland's Awer Mabil is the lone Australian in this season's Champions League group stage.

Socceroos winger Awer Mabil may be the only Australian featuring in this year's UEFA Champions League group stage but doesn't think he'll be on his own for long.

Mabil's Danish club FC Midtjylland kick off their inaugural Champions League campaign against Atalanta at home on Thursday at 6am AEDT.

With Celtic's Tom Rogic and Red Star Belgrade's Milos Degenek failing to get through the qualifying stage and Aziz Behich moving away on loan from Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir, Mabil is the lone Aussie representative in Europe's elite competition.

It's a far cry from the early-2000s when Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Craig Moore, Scott Chipperfield, Jason Culina and Scott McDonald were all Champions League regulars.

A great believer in Australia's next generation of football talent, Mabil is confident his lone hand this campaign will soon be the exception.

"We've been to the last three or four World Cups, so why can't we have a lot of players in the Champions League club wise? That's my goal," Mabil said.

"To try to at least have a couple of Aussie players playing in the Champions League every year - not just one.

"I think that will happen because I just have a feeling the next group will come up and this group will have a lot of players playing in the Champions League."

Midtjylland are the minnows of a group containing English champions, Liverpool, four-time European Cup winners Ajax and last year's quarter-finalists Atalanta.

While Midtjylland are making their Champions League debut, Mabil is eager to inspire another generation of Australians with his performances.

"It's hard to describe the feeling of growing up and watching this in Australia, before school, and to just be one week away from playing in it," he said.

"It's going to be something that I hope can inspire the next generation of Australian kids who are waking up at, I don't know, 5am in the morning to watch the Champions League.

"I hope that they look at their fellow Aussie playing in it and say, 'OK I can do it'.

"I hope that can happen."

Australian Associated Press