Vidmar has sights on Rio 2016 at AFC U-22 Championships

With the AFC U-22 Championship days away, we chat to Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar to gather his thoughts on the upcoming tournament.

With the AFC U-22 Championship days away, we chat to Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar to gather his thoughts on the upcoming tournament.

Vidmar has deliberately taken a young squad to the AFC U/22 Championships, starting on January 12.

With the 2016 Olympics on the horizon, Vidmar and his staff took the decision to pick a young squad in order to give the players relevant international experience, ahead of the qualification process for 2016.

"Along with Japan, we have the youngest team in our group," Vidmar said. "We wanted to take 1993-4 and 1995 born players to give them international experience. We're the only team in the competition with so many 1995 born players (five). It will be a big test for everyone, but we want to be competitive against the older players."

A number of the promising young players are doing extremely well in the Hyundai A-League, but they have had to be pulled out of their squads mid-season. It is a problem that Vidmar is aware of.

"Players are always in a different status from season to season," he said. "Some may not be playing much football now but in a year's time they may be playing a lot more. The fact that all qualifiers are on non-FIFA dates makes it a lot trickier to pick the team."

The Olyroos have three matches in six days: against Kuwait on January 12, Iran on January 14 and Japan on January 16.

The condensed schedule means that preparation is even more important than usual.

"Preparations have been going well," Vidmar said. "We had three sessions in Dubai prior to coming to Oman on Friday. We knew the pitch conditions in Oman were not that suitable for the players to train on, so we had a few good sessions on pitches that were first class in Dubai."

It hasn't been all smooth sailing though, with various injuries forcing Vidmar to adjust his squad accordingly.

"We have lost some players along the way prior to departing Australia," he said. "They suffered injuries with their A-League clubs, so we have had to make some last minute changes to the squad."

With matches coming thick and fast, Vidmar will have to utilise his whole squad to keep legs fresh. The coach won't name his captain though, until just before the opening match against Kuwait.

"I won't name a captain until prior to the first game," Vidmar said. "My intentions are to give every player here at least one game each from the group stage. So, trying to settle a team for the first game leading into the second game is tricky considering that there is only one days break between games."

Among those expected to feature for the Olyroos is young West Ham forward, Dylan Tombides. It is his comeback to the international scene after successfully beating testicular cancer, and Vidmar is pleased to have him back.

"It's great to see Dylan back," he said. "I think it's very positive for him to be involved again and back with team mates that he has spent a lot of time with in the past. He is certainly an inspiration to everyone and has enormous fighting qualities that will keep him in good stead for many years to come."

Olyroos squad for AFC U-22 Championship - Muscat, Oman - 11-26 January 2014

1. Aaron Lennox (gk) QPR, England 2. Jason Geria Melbourne Victory, Australia 3. Curtis Good Newcastle United, England 4. Connor Chapman Newcastle Jets, Australia 5. Corey Brown Brisbane Roar, Australia 6. Joshua Brillante Newcastle Jets, Australia 7. Stefan Mauk Melbourne Heart, Australia 8. Ryan Edwards Perth Glory, Australia 9. Dylan Tombides West Ham United, England 10. Adam Taggart Newcastle Jets, Australia 11. Connor Pain Melbourne Victory, Australia 12. Jack Duncan (gk) Perth Glory, Australia 13. Scott Galloway Melbourne Victory, Australia 14. Nicholas Ansell Melbourne Victory, Australia 15. David Vrankovic Melbourne Heart, Australia 16. Reece Caira Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 17. Jake Barker-Daish Adelaide United, Australia 18. John Hall (gk) Adelaide United, Australia 19. Hagi Gligor Sydney FC, Australia 20. Chris Ikonomidis SS Lazio, Italy 21. Andrew Hoole Newcastle Jets, Australia 22. Ryan Kitto Adelaide United, Australia 23. Peter Skapetis QPR, England

Coach: Aurelio Vidmar

Olyroos squad for AFC U-22 Championship - Match Schedule

Sun 12 Jan Australia v Kuwait Royal Oman Police Stadium 5pm (Midnight AEDT) Tue 14 Jan Iran v Australia Royal Oman Police Stadium 5pm (Midnight AEDT) Thu 16 Jan Australia v Japan Royal Oman Police Stadium 5pm (Midnight AEDT) Mon 20 Jan Possible quarter finals Thu 23 Jan Possible semi finals Sat 25 Jan 3rd v 4th playoff Sun 26 Jan Tournament Final