Update: SBS Sport website to
become home
of all our sport
content on 09/08/2021.

Overseas clubs will have big say in Olyroos squad, admits Arnold

Source: Getty Images

Australia's first men's football team to compete at the Olympic Games since 2008 will be determined largely on the goodwill of foreign clubs.

Graham Arnold has shifted his focus from the Socceroos to the Olyroos ahead of next month's Olympic football tournament in Tokyo, where Australia will play Argentina, Spain and Egypt in their group.

Arnold is finalising his 18-man squad for the Games which he hopes to have sorted by the end of next week but says who gets selected isn't totally in his hands.

"We've got to get goodwill from overseas-based clubs to release the players for the Olympics," Arnold said, adding the response so far to making players available had been 50/50.

"It's a lot of communication.

"I'm spending a lot of time on the phones with the sports directors of clubs overseas and talking about the great opportunity it will give the kids of that age group for their careers ahead of them."

Olympic squads can contain up to three 'over-age' players born before the January 1, 1997 eligibility cutoff.

Arnold said clubs of several over-age Socceroos had already ruled their players out of contention for Olympic selection, and the Australian coach says he will only pick those who can fill roles in the squad that can't be filled by under-23 talent.

With Tom Glover and English-based Ashley Maynard-Brewer poised to be the two goalkeepers in the squad, Arnold said Mat Ryan won't be in the mix.

The leading candidates for over-age spots would be Australian-based Socceroos such as Rhyan Grant, Jamie Maclaren, Ruon Tongyik or Chris Ikonomidis with the A-League season to be completed by the time the Olyroos kick off their campaign against Argentina on July 22.

Another contender might be Mathew Leckie, with the ex-Hertha Berlin winger having recently signed a deal to return to Australia with Melbourne City.

"There's no way I want to take an over-age player if we're strong in that position," Arnold said.

"We're not going to build the squad around the three over-age players. It'll be built around the young kids."

Arnold is in Dubai preparing for the Olympics after the conclusion of Australia's second phase of World Cup qualifying.

He confirmed players from that World Cup qualifiers squad who are Olyroos including Connor Metcalfe, Denis Genreau, Riley McGree and possibly defender Harry Souttar are almost certain to be part of his Games squad.

"I don't think you need to be a rocket scientist to know that if I took an Olyroo across to play with the Socceroos that those ones are probably selected in the Olyroos."

Source AAP