Jamie Maclaren says he hopes to transfer his fantastic Hyundai A-League goal-scoring form onto the international stage next week to help propel the Olyroos to this year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Aurelio Vidmar’s squad have started preparations for next week’s AFC U-23 Championship in Qatar - which double as Rio qualifiers for the top three nations in the 16-team tournament - with a week-long training camp in Dubai.
The squad has settled into their Dubai base and completed their first training session on Wednesday, with a week to prepare for their tournament opener against UAE in Doha.
Brisbane Roar striker Maclaren will be a key player for the Olyroos if they hope to finish in the top three.
Along with Fulham’s Adam Taggart, the pair will be the two Vidmar leans on to provide the goals and Maclaren certainly has form on his side with Roar.
The 22-year-old has found the net seven times this season in the Hyundai A-League and also had three assists for the league-leading Roar.
“Viddy [Vidmar] has always worked hard on me at getting chances to score goals in training, just to give you that confidence to do it in games,” Maclaren told www.footballaustralia.com.au.
“We’ll continue to do that this week and then hopefully take it into the games. It’s something I’ve really set my sights on.
“Adam [Taggart] and myself, we’ve scored a lot of goals between us for the Olyroos, now it’s come to crunch time hopefully we can turn up and put the ball in the back of the net again.
“It’s an important week for all of us, we know that. We’re a bunch of boys that have been together for close to six years this generation, a few new faces here and there but the core has stayed the same.
“It’s been a long time for [Australia] qualifying for an Olympics and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to put ourselves on the big stage and hopefully we can qualify.”
Maclaren has formed a lethal combination with Roar team-mate Brandon Borrello in the A-League and the Melbourne-born flyer believes they can have similar success for the Olyroos.
“We play a very similar style of football [with the Olyroos to Brisbane] and when you’re in that attacking third, you have that freedom,” Maclaren said.
“Me and Brandon have that at Brisbane and we’ll bring that freedom and ability to put the ball in the back of the net here.
“Then with guys like Taggart who can do that, Andrew Hoole as well, we’ve got a great squad and we’re just looking forward to the next week.
“We’re going to approach this next week with some hard training and getting ready to do what Viddy wants us to do and I’m sure we’ll be fine come the first game on the 14th.”
The Olyroos open their campaign with a tricky clash against a strong UAE outfit next Thursday, before games against Vietnam (Jan 17) and Jordan (Jan 20) to round out the group stage.
The side must then get to at least the semi-finals and finish third to confirm their spot in Rio.
“Most of the teams in [Asia] like to sit off us and play on the counter because they know how much we like to attack,” Maclaren explained.
“They just sit off and try and make us break them down.
“We’re not too fazed about them…if we get our performance right we’ll have no problems in beating teams, we just have to put the ball in the back of the net, that’s what it takes to win these games.”