• Socceroos assistant coach ante Milicic (Getty Images)
Olyroos coach Ante Milicic has drawn a line under the selection brouhaha for the Asian Championships, declaring the tournament as a key opportunity for the players to earn a World Cup spot.
Source:
AAP
10 Jan 2018 - 12:29 PM  UPDATED 10 Jan 2018 - 12:30 PM

The Australian under-23 team kicks off their campaign against recent Socceroos foe Syria in the Chinese city of Kunshan on Thursday night.

Matches with Vietnam and South Korea follow in the Olyroos' tricky group D.

A club v country battle for the allegiance of A-League players, headlined by promising Central Coast midfielder Daniel De Silva, threatened to overshadow or stymie the team's chances in the tournament, but Milicic reported a harmonious and focused group in camp.

"All the players have been fantastic with their attitudes," he told AAP fro Jiangsu province.

"I understand the the coaches' point of view. If I was a coach I'd want them as well.

"But if I was Daniel De Silva, well, he hasn't played a lot of football in the last couple of years. And he's never played for the Socceroos.

"This is an opportunity to do it at international level.

"All the players understand it's worthwhile. It's a point of difference for them. It's international experience. It's how you grow and get better.

"Can you back up? Can you perform with a couple of days rest? Can you adapt to different styles? And all within a few days."

Olyroos squad heads to China as named
The Olyroos selection stand-off is over, with the entire squad heading to China for the under-23 Asian Championships.

Milicic, who is the Socceroos assistant coach, said he'd have one eye on Russia at the tournament as he looks for players who could work their way into World Cup contention.

"There has to be a few (in the mix for June's World Cup)," he said.

"I'm hoping by the end of the tournament there's more. That's the idea and it's part of my responsibility as well, to get them up to a level." 

Milicic, who oversaw a 2-1 warm-up friendly win against Thailand's under-23s on Saturday, said a number of Europe-based players didn't come into camp.

He listed Chris Ikonomidis, Brandon Borello, Awer Mabil, Cameron Burgess, and Jordan Lyden (injured) as players that declined the call, either personally or by their clubs.

The remaining players in Kunshan fell into two categories.

"Players are only here because they're eligible for the Olympics or they could be Socceroos one day and this is the last chance for the (players born in) 95 and 96 to be involved in international football," he said.

"After this it's back to their clubs and unless its the Socceroos, they don't get to wear the jersey again."

Olyroos can win it all, declares game-hungry Tongyik
Olyroos defender Ruon Tongyik says the quality and good spirits inside the Australian camp suggests they can win this month's under-23 Asian Championship.

Milicic was given the job of coaching at the tournament at the 11th hour, when Josep Gombau left the role to coach Western Sydney.

He said he'd rotate his 23-man squad heavily to ensure as many players saw game time as possible - and to maximise their chances of success.

"Always the goal is to win it," he said.

"First and foremost though the goal is to get out of the group. That will give us more game time and the players more experience."