Marbella or bust: Olympic hopefuls battle it out for Tokyo spots in final Games auditions

(Left to right) Caleb Watts, Noah Botic and Daniel Arzani. Source: Getty Images

Football Australia has locked in an Olympic Games preparation camp in Spain where a gallery of overseas-based Aussies will be jousting for Tokyo spots in clashes against Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Romania.

Coach Gary van Egmond will take charge of a 24-man squad, standing in for Graham Arnold and assistant Rene Meulensteen who will be on FIFA World Cup duty with the Socceroos in Kuwait.

The Olympic aspirants will be based in the picturesque Mediterranean resort of Marbella, with Australia’s U-23s set to play their four games over 13 days at the beginning of next month.

Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Romania have also qualified for July’s Tokyo Games, whilst Ireland missed out.

Australia have been drawn in Group D alongside two-time champions Argentina, Spain and Egypt - and this camp represents a last chance to win a place in the 18-man squad which heads to Japan on July 1.

The European-based contingent in Marbella will include Paderborn’s John Iredale, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Noah Botic and AGF Aarhus’ Daniel Arzani, who has it all to do after struggling for game time at FC Utrecht and now in Denmark.

Fulham’s Tyrese Francois, Brentford youngster Lachlan Brook and emerging Charlton backup goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer are also inclusions. 

Southampton’s Caleb Watts, who has made three Premier League appearances this season, may also be in Spain.

The midfielder, 19, was originally earmarked to join the Socceroos in the Middle East but a niggling injury may have sparked a change of plan.

The Olyroos will have four more warm-ups in Japan before their Games opener against Argentina on July 22.

It’s likely Arnold’s final squad will include around six or seven overseas-based Aussies with the rest selected from the A-League.