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Brazil, Argentina loom for Olyroos as uncapped Aussies jostle for Tokyo tickets

Vinicius Jr (left) Al-Hassan Toure (centre) Lautaro Martinez (right) Source: Getty Images

Making the cut for the Tokyo Games just got even more enticing for an ensemble of auditioning Olyroos, with either defending champions Brazil or 2004 and 2008 winners Argentina awaiting Australia in the group stage.

Wednesday’s men’s draw will pit Australia against one of the two Latin giants, who are in Pot 1 alongside hosts Japan and South Korea, neither of whom can face a team from their own AFC confederation in the group stage.

The gala prospect of mixing it with a showcase South American opponent comes a day after UK-based Socceroos and Olyroos assistant Rene Meulensteen laid down the gauntlet to a trio of uncapped hopefuls, including

Charlton backup goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer, budding Fulham midfielder Tyrese Francois and Everton U-23s defender Con Ouzounidis.

All three are in the frame for a proposed Olympic warm-up tournament in Toulon in June, where Australia could play up to five games in 15 days.

The final 20-man squad will be largely European-based, with Meulensteen explaining: “We’ve got a lot of players on the radar and this camp (in France) is an opportunity to have a good look at players before we make final decisions.

“Con, for example, has trained with Everton’s first team and has experience working under Carlo Ancelotti and playing with guys like Michael Keane, somebody I worked with during my time at Manchester United (with the youth setup and then first-team assistant to Alex Ferguson).

“You look at how well Michael has done at Everton and becoming an England international ... he’s a great role model for Con.

“Tyrese Francois is another who’s developing well. He played in the Carabao Cup last year and scored in a 4-1 win over Aston Villa in the U-23s the other week.

“(Head coach) Scott Parker rates him and we want to have a close look at him.

“Then you look at young Ashley at Charlton. He hasn’t played in League One yet but he’s got a few first-team games under his belt in cup competitions.

“Those are priceless experiences, and he has the chance to kick on at a club that are in the mix for the play-offs, have a new owner and big plans for the future.

“Ashley is out to establish himself and it’s down to him to prove what the level’s going to reach.”

Australia were beaten 1-0 by a Lionel Messi-led Argentina in the group stage at Beijing in 2008 - the last time they featured at the Olympics. 

Pot 1 - Japan, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea  

Pot 2 - Mexico, Germany, Honduras, Spain  

Pot 3 - Egypt, New Zealand, Ivory Coast, South Africa  

Pot 4 - Australia, Saudi Arabia, France, Romania  

Source SBS The World Game