Graham Arnold reveals his Olympic plans to ‘shock the world’

With Tokyo 2020 around the corner and his squad announced, Graham Arnold believes Australia is ready to shine in its first Olympic Men's Football appearance since 2008.

The Olyroos have been drawn in Group C with Egypt, Spain and Argentina set to pose a stern test.

And while the squad selection process has not been easy, Arnold feels his 18-man Olympic squad is capable of causing an upset.

“I look at the squad that we’ve got and I’m over the moon with it,” explained Arnold.

“We have had some goodwill from overseas-based clubs and we have some standout players who have done great in the A-League this year.

For me, it’s a great talented squad of an under 23 team that has eight Socceroos in it. As I’ve said before, my expectations are that we will shock the world.”

With the challenge of facing some of the world’s best young talent ahead, Arnold’s squad boasts a fantastic mix of European-based youngsters and A-League stars.

Best on ground in the A-League grand final, Nathaniel Atkinson, along with fellow Melbourne City players Tom Glover and Connor Metcalfe are ready to shine on the world stage.

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While Harry Souttar, who has scored six goals in five international appearances for the Socceroos, and recent debutant Riley McGree headline the European based player selection.

After bursting onto the scene at the age of 19, Daniel Arzani will also be hoping to excite Green and Gold fans once again.

The Olyroos will take two overage players to Tokyo, Ruon Tongyik and Mitch Duke, both of whom plied their trade in the A-League last season.

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While Arnold admitted that FIFA regulations allowing clubs to make players unavailable for selection had worked against him, he preferred to focus on the players selected.

"I always stated and, I mean this, that I wasn't going to build a squad around three over-age players, it's more about filling spaces, if we need,” Arnold explained.

“So with Mitchell Duke, he’s in Saudi Arabia and that competition doesn’t restart till the end of July so his club gave him the release with goodwill.

“We needed another number nine, someone with experience. Mitchell is someone who has shown in the past with the Socceroos and also in clubland, his commitment, work rate and goalscoring.

“With Ruon Tongyik, I was sad to see that he was only three days too old for the Olympic squad originally.

“He’s had an impressive season so I thought it was a good way to build the future of the Socceroos but also as an Olyroo to give him the recognition after the great season that he has had at the Mariners.”

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Ruon Tongyik Olyroos
Ruon Tongyik has enjoyed his Socceroos debut and a dream Olympic call-up within weeks

Having represented the Socceroos since 2013, Duke will bring plenty of leadership to the camp.

However, Arnold will not be rushing into any decisions surrounding the armband until the players are together.

“We will get the boys together in Japan to start the first part of our camp before we make a decision,” he said. 

“Once the boys get together and we start gelling with mateship and that family atmosphere in the Olyroos, you’ll see who the leaders are and we will act on it then.”

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