Victory star in doubt for Olyroos opener

Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar has declared his team ready for their start to the AFC U-23 Championships, though Victory's Jason Geria and skipper Mustafa Amini are under injury and illness clouds.

“I’m very confident they [the Olyroos] are going to acquit themselves very well,” Vidmar told FFA TV.

“The preparation has been spot on. There has been a couple of little hiccups, little challenges. 

"Musti’s [Amini] been sick for five or six days, that’s not good for us and not good for him either.

“They’re all little challenges we have to face now and then but other than that everything has gone pretty smoothly for us.

“It’s very exciting. We’ve seen the set up here, the players now can feel that and they are in tournament mode which is very important for them,” Vidmar added.

“So now they’ve really narrowed in on their focus and really looking forward to tomorrow night’s (Friday morning AEDT) game [against UAE]."


Amini, however, is said to have shrugged off his virus and should be fine to take his place against UAE in Doha.

But Melbourne Victory right-back Jason Geria is the only player in some doubt.

Vidmar rated him “50-50” to be available for their opening match of the tournament, which doubles as qualifiers for the Rio Olympic Games.

The Olyroos' Group D games in Doha:

• UAE this Thursday January 14 (Friday morning AEDT)

• Vietnam January 17

• Jordan January 20

A winning start is seen as crucial to the young Aussies’ hopes of qualifying, with Vidmar excited by the challenge of facing the talented Emiratis.

“We know what to expect, they are always going to be very tricky. We even had them in our qualification four years ago - albeit that was their golden generation - this is a very different team but still a very tricky team,” Vidmar said.

“They have some great forwards, very mobile forwards and typically around these areas and UAE especially, there’s always a special no.10 which they have as well.

“[But] there’s nothing to fear for us, we’re really confident in what we’re doing, what we want to do and how we want to play our game.

“It’s going to be a tough game but one where we can definitely get over the line.”

Vidmar represented Australia at the 1996 Olympics as a player and is now trying to take them to the Games as a coach.

“It would be the ultimate really, not only for myself but the players to experience such a major tournament,” he said.

The Olyroos must finish in the top three in Doha to book their ticket to Rio later this year.