Head coach Alistair Edwards has selected six overseas-based players in a 22-member Joeys squad for the four-nation Saudi Arabia under-16 international tournament which will be played in Taif in August.
Australia will face host nation Saudi Arabia in its first match on 3 August, Morocco on 5 August and China on 7 August.
The overseas-based players in Kevin Ly (Burnley), George Mells (Southampton), Ross Millard (West Ham), Conor O’Neill (Middlesbrough), Hyuga Tanner (Blackburn Rovers) and Taylor Tombides (West Ham) with the remainder of the squad drawn from the AIS, state institutes and Premier Youth League clubs.
Edwards said he is excited about the challenges his squad will face as part their preparations for the AFC Under-16 Championship which will be played in Iran in September.
“This invitation to play in Saudi Arabia is another important step in the development process of the team with another three quality matches to play,” Edwards said.
“There are exciting times ahead as shortly after this tournament we will travel to Bolivia for another camp and I couldn’t be happier with the way our preparations are progressing and the way the boys are gelling as a group both on and off the park.
“This is also the first time that the overseas players will join up with the squad and it will be interesting to see how they have developed since the last time we saw them play at their respective clubs in May.
“From the squad that travelled to Laos, Tony Vidmar and I have included eight new players.
”The available talent pool is very encouraging and these games will provide an opportunity to see how well the overseas-based players can integrate into our established team ethos.
“There is healthy competition amongst this group and we are all really looking forward to the opportunities and challenges over the next few months.”
Two weeks after the Saudi Arabia tournament, the Joeys will head to South America for an altitude training camp in Bolivia, funded entirely by the AIS, where they will play five friendly matches against quality local opposition.
The Joeys have been drawn in Group B of the AFC Under-16 Championship with Iraq, Oman and Thailand.
The top two teams from each group will progress to the quarter-finals.
The four semi-finalists will automatically qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in late 2013.
Joeys squad: James Baldacchino (South Coast Wolves), Aaron Calver (NSWIS), Daniel De Silva (WA NTC), Alex Gersbach (AIS), Jack Iredale (AIS), Andre Jannese (AIS), Steve Kuzmanovski (AIS), Kevin Ly (Burnley), Joshua MacDonald (NSWIS), Darcy Madden (AIS),
George Mels (Southampton), Ross Millard (West Ham), Matthew Ntoumenopiulos (AIS),
Connor O’Neill (Middlesbrough), Rocco Pizzata (WA NTC), Liam Rose (NSWIS), Matthew Schmidt (AIS), Lukas Stergiou (Sutherland Sharks), Matthew Stewart (NSWIS), Hyuga Tanner (Blackburn Rovers), Taylor Teombides (West Ham), Jordan Thurtell (AIS).
John Boultbee is set to relinquish his role as Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) Head of National Teams to take up a role as honorary head of World Rowing (FISA).