The Olyroos failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics and havn’t graced the tournament since the Sydney Olympics.
Losing to Saudi Arabia in the quarter finals last time around they will face stiff opposition from Asian powerhouses Iraq and South Korea in the business end of the 2016 tournament.
Already the Olyroos have taken a backward step to their campaign with a number of veterans at the international stage, failing to get a release from their overseas based clubs because of the timing of the FIFA international window.
Jackson Irvine (Ross County), left back Brad Smith (Liverpool) and Milos Degenek (1860 Munich) will miss out on the 2016 Olympic qualifiers, which will be a blow to Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar. All players have past Socceroos experience and will be missed.
Vidmar has looked toward the Hyundai A League to fill his 23 man squad and Melbourne Victory have been hit hardest by this, losing five players to international duties. Hyundai A-League clubs, as part of their Football Federation Australia agreement must release players for international duties, much to the annoyance of home based managers.
Whether players like Giancario Gallifuoco, Scott Galloway and Jason Geria can do the job against tough international competition remains to be seen, but the inclusion of Daniel De Silva, josh Brillainte and Adam Taggart will certainly prove handy for the Australians.
We know the might of the 2013 tournament winners Iraq who topped their group and defeated Japan 1-0 in the quarter-finals and Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final. Their recent form has been very good having not lost a match in their last six and defeating Saudi Arabia (2-1) in March.
Iraq have 2012 AFC Youth Player of the Year Mohanad Abdulraheem and a total of fifteen players from the 2013 championship winning side including full internationals Mustafa Nadhim, Saif Salman and Ali Faez.
Korea Republic have qualified for the last seven Olympics going back to 1988 in Soul and once again will be pushing for another appearance having won the bronze medal at the London Olympics.
Vidmar has come under increasing pressure with recent performances and the Olyroos have failed to get a win in their past five matches going down to Qatar (3-1), Iran (1-1), South Korea (2-1, 2-0), Macedonia (3-1) and surely the ongoing club release issues aren’t going to help matters.
With only the top three teams going through to Rio it is important for the Olyroos to shine on the business end of the tournament and with proven goal scorer Adam Taggert, Brilliante and De Silver they may go close.
Olyroos squad: Mustafa Amini , Terry Antonis, Brandon Borrello, Josh Brilliante, Cameron Burgess, Daniel De Silva, Thomas Deng, James Donachie, Jack Duncan, Ryan Edwards, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Scott Galloway, Jason Geria, Alex Gerbasch, Andrew Hoole, Chris Ikonomidis, Paul Izzo, Aaron Lennox, Jamie Maclaren, Stefan Mauk, Connor Pain, Adam Taggart, Steven Ugarkovic.
By Paul Brown