Graham Arnold's 'great headache' as Olympic preparations ramp up

"We have planned a great preparation in the month moving into the Olympics, and our first goal is getting the best players together."

For Graham Arnold, the tough decision to select 18 players destined for Tokyo from a shortlist of 'over 50' is going to come down to one thing: performance. 

With 100 days until the postponed 2020 Games gets underway, the Olyroos head coach provided an insight into how preparations are progressing. 

READ: How to watch the Tokyo 2020 draw 

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While he has had to deal with COVID-19 constantly throwing a spanner in the works, Arnold is optimistically looking forward to the coming months in readying the U-23's for Australia's first Olympic Football Tournament since 2008. 

"It's been frustrating for everyone, especially with COVID and the pandemic that we've had to deal with," the Head Coach told

"It's been the hardest thing for me because I am a planner and when you plan something that keeps getting squashed, it affects you quite a bit.

"But being flexible with the planning is the most important thing, and while for the Olyroos it hasn't gone fantastic and if you look around to the other teams that have qualified, their planning has been exactly the same as ours." 

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Arnold is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to reunite with the squad on the training pitch - and he has no shortage of players who have put their hand up for an Olympic berth. 

"We have planned a great preparation in the month moving into the Olympics, and our first goal is getting the best players together and making sure that preparation is right," he said. 

"The exciting thing is for me is that as I've said before, two years ago when I first took over the Olympic team, I struggled to put 10 or 20 names on a piece of paper.

Today I've got 50, so there's going to be some great headaches ahead and I have a lot of belief in this group of players."

When it comes to selecting those who will be involved, Arnold enforced that players will be selected based on their displays week in week out with their clubs. 

"It all comes down to performance," he said. "Those in the A-League, I'm seeing them play every week and for the boys overseas we've connected with the clubs in Europe, they're sending us tapes of the boys whether they're playing first grade, under 23's or in the reserves. 

"Watching them play every week, I can see technically that they're good, I can see tactically that they're adaptable and I can see physically what their condition is like. 

"But the mentality of character is one part that I need to connect with them and that's why the camp and the preparation moving forward will be very important for getting to learn about them as a person. I do believe if once you get the person right, the player just becomes natural.

"We've got some fantastic players, it's going to be hard to fit 18 players plus four injury replacement players - so it's a good headache to have."

The road to Tokyo will hit another key milestone next week, when the Olympic Football Tournament Men's and Women's draws are revealed by FIFA. 

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