Socceroos and Australia U-23 men’s national football team Head Coach Graham Arnold today recognised the clubs that contributed players to Australia’s successful Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification campaign.
Arnold, who returned to Sydney from Bangkok on Monday having overseen Australia’s third-place finish at the AFC U-23 Championship, said that the he believes clubs both at home and abroad made a strong contribution to the green and gold’s success at the tournament.
Australia won three fixtures, drew two, and lost just one throughout the tournament – defeat coming against the eventual unbeaten tournament Champions Korea Republic at the semi-final stage.
“The Hyundai A-League club owners and football departments should be recognised for the role they played in Australia’s return to the men’s football competition at the Olympics,” Arnold said.
“Early on in the cycle clubs released players for camps in Canberra, ensured we had access to players during the FIFA windows in order to play more games in the lead up to the Championship-proper, and ensured that their players arrived in good physical condition for the tournament in Thailand.
“Our achievement would not have been possible without the assistance of clubs in Australia and overseas, and likewise we believe that the players involved with our squad in Thailand have returned to their clubs as better players mentally and physically having gained experience at a significant international competition.”
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, plus FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers and the Copa America to look forward to later in the year, Arnold said success in Thailand had added more crucial activity to the national team calendar.
“Positively, our achievement in Thailand has added more football to our 2020 calendar,” Arnold added. “Our senior men’s teams inclusive of the Socceroos and under 23s will feature in at least another 17 competitive matches this year inclusive of the World Cup qualifiers, the Olympics, and the Copa America.”
“This strong schedule of activity will provide deserving players with opportunities to impress at international level, which, as we can see from the recent case of Thomas Deng transferring to Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan, can provide spin-off effects for both clubs and players.”
“We believe a strong schedule of international football only supports the level of, and interest in, the domestic competition,” he said.
Graham Arnold will join Matt Shirvington and Daniel Garb live on ‘FOX Sports Tonight’ at 7.30pm this evening to review Australia’s AFC U-23 Championship campaign, which resulted in Australia securing a return to the men’s football competition at the Olympic Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.