The Olyroos need to finish in the top three to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a feat that may not be as easy as expected, based on previous Olympic qualification experiences.
The Olyroos failed to qualify for Beijing in 2008, going down to Cote d’ Ivoire, and in 2012 came last in their group and failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
Recent friendly matches ended up with losses against Korea (2-0, 2-1), Qatar (3-1) and a 1-1 draw with Iran in November. However, manager Aurelio Vidmar believes his youngsters have the goods to do the job and qualify for Rio.
“We know it will be a really good test for them, but I think it’s a chance for these young boys to stake a claim and show the Australian public what they have got,” said Vidmar.
One thing that is in their favour, is the blooding of a number of youngsters in the Asian Cup Socceroos squad and we must give Ange Postecoglou credit for his insight and faith in youngsters Josh Brilliante, Terry Antonis, Chris Ikonomidis and Adam Taggart, who are sure to be in the thick of things come January 14th.
The squad have flown out to Dubai to prepare for the 2016 AFC U-23 Championships in Qatar, minus a few players that would have been handy to have in the side, but Daniel De Silver and left back Brad Smith were not released by their foreign clubs.
One thing that has plagued the Olyroos in the past, against better sides, is scoring goals, and Olyroos' coach Aurelio Vidmar is hoping that the inclusion of Adam Taggart and Jamie Maclaren might provide the edge in Doha.
“Me and Jamie’s main focus is on scoring goals and it will be nice to link up and have that attacking force and have a direct way of going forward against these teams,” said Adam Taggart.
Taggart, a former Nike A-League Golden Boot winner, currently ply’s his trade for Dundee United, on loan from Fulham and has made seven appearances for the Socceroos. Meanwhile, Maclaren has scored seven goals for the Brisbane Roar this season.
Most of the players in the squad will be too old to compete at this level next time around, so this is their last chance to go one better than their predecessors and qualify for an Olympics.
Other players to watch are midfielder Terry Antonis currently playing in Greece, Ryan Edwards who plays for Patrick Thistle in the Scottish Premiership, Central Midfielder Mustafa Amini and of course Josh Brilliante and attacking midfielder Chris Ikonomidis, who has made three appearances for the Socceroos.
The Olyroos face the United Arab Emirates in their first match on January 14th at Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha, before taking on Vietnam and Jordan on the 20th January.