Liberia have left the door open for young gun Al Hassan Toure, despite the Adelaide United striker pledging his immediate international future to Australia.
A Reds official confirmed on Tuesday night - after initial reports from News Corp - that Toure had chosen his adopted country ahead of the land of his parents, and would be available for Olyroos duty later this month.
Disappointed the 19-year-old striker had rebuffed Liberia for the country he has called home since the age of four, the Lone Stars’ English coach Peter Butler insisted Toure would have a better chance of senior football with the west Africans than Australia.
Toure, who has scored six goals in eight games in all competitions, is expected to be named imminently in a 23-man Olyroos squad for the three-match tour of China.
Meanwhile, an experimental Liberia face Egypt in Alexandria and Iran in Tehran next week.
He could theoretically still backflip and opt for Liberia - since friendly internationals aren’t binding - with Butler telling The World Game: “We can’t push the lad and the most important thing is he makes the decision how he sees fit".
“The question is, will he go on to play for the Australian team at senior level? How many youngsters play for the Olyroos and never go any further?
“I’m still prepared to welcome him with open arms even though it’s obviously disappointing for us - especially when you see him crying on the pitch draped in a Liberian flag (after a man of the match display in the FFA Cup final). I just hope he’s made the right decision.
“We’ve given him an opportunity and made an offer but he’s not returned our calls.”
Other than the Socceroos at the end of the rainbow, Toure also has the opportunity to play under senior team coach Graham Arnold in January’s Olympic Games qualifiers in Thailand - a huge incentive to opt for the green and Gold.
“There are a lot of good players around the world who are desperate to play for Liberia. But (at this point) Al Hassan is not one of them and we have to move on.
“I got the impression talking to his agent he was going to choose Australia - and I don’t have an issue with that.”
Butler has turned instead to LA Galaxy rookie forward Mohammed Kamara, explaining: “He’s in a similar mould to Al Hassan but maybe a little further down the line in terms of his development.”