Arnold likely to pick over-age players for Tokyo ‘only if needed’

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold Source: Getty Images

Socceroos and Olyroos coach Graham Arnold is considering doing away with three allowed over-age players for the forthcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Australian men's team has qualified for its first Games since 2008 in Beijing and will know on Wednesday its opponents in Japan.

Arnold said there is a possibility that the squad to participate in the Olympics will be composed entirely of under-23 members.

It will feature 18 players plus four train-ons. who will also travel to Tokyo and be on stand-by should any of the 18 is injured or gets sick.

"We are still going through the process of talking to the clubs and looking at players from overseas but at this stage I am likely to take any over-age player to Japan only if we are weak in a particular position," Arnold said.

"I want to give the young players every chance to show what they can do. I truly believe believe that the Socceroos will benefit from a strong Olyroos team.

"The kids need to come through the system and by the age of 23 they should be knocking on the door of the Socceroos team and putting pressure on the incumbents to retain their positions.

"Since 2016 only three players - Daniel Arzani, Alex Gersbach and Thomas Deng - made their senior debut before they were 23."

Arnold, who took charge of the Socceroos immediately after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, is hoping to reap the benefit of leading both national teams.

Despite COVID-9 throwing a spanner in the works, Arnold is confident that his unusual position will enable him to smoothen the transition of several Australian players from Olympic to full international level.

"It's why I took the two jobs," Arnold explained.

"What's important is to make the younger players feel comfortable when they come into the Socceroos squad.

"They get the same messaging and the same playing style, they knew exactly what you want from them and they do not feel inferior.

"They should feel straight away that they belong in the family because they are also dealing with the same staff."

"I firmly believe that six or seven players who could make the cut for the Olympics would be in Qatar with us.

"In the 1980s we had a Socceroos A and B team and when I was young I think I played something like 30 matches for the B team before I got a full cap.

"We had a lot of young players coming through and later in the 1990s and beyond the strength of the Socceroos team was a result of good preparation at B level."

Source SBS The World Game