In-form Jamie Maclaren says the Olyroos’ desire to end their time together in youth international football with a bang is a major motivating factor at the upcoming AFC U-23 Championship.
The core of coach Aurelio Vidmar’s squad has come right through the youth ranks in the green and gold, from the U-17s to now, fighting for a berth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
With many of the squad to be too old to play for the Olyroos once this campaign is over, the Brisbane Roar flyer admits there are driving to make every moment count as a group.
“It would mean a lot [to qualify]. Some of us have been together for six years,” Maclaren told FFA TV.
“We don’t want it to end yet. We want to qualify and send us there.
“As a young kid you want to play at a major tournament,” he added.
“The World Cup has been done for the U-20s, now it’s the Olympic campaign for all of us and we want to do that. We’ve got a confident group of boys.”
The Olyroos' group D games in Doha:
• UAE this Thursday January 14
• Vietnam January 17
• Jordan January 20
Maclaren believes the training camp the squad has just completed in Dubai has been the perfect build up to the tournament, and they are “ready to get to crunch time”.
A star in the Hyundai A-League with Roar this season, the 22-year-old’s goals looms as a key if the Olyroos are to finish the tournament in the top three and book their ticket to Rio.
“I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” Maclaren said.
“I’ve played the last 12 games for Brisbane, scored a lot of goals…I’d like to score more in the A-League but that’s just the way it is.
“Hopefully I can bring more chances and goals to this campaign.
“There’s a lot of goals in this team so hopefully we can add a few to that and send us to Rio,” he added.