All good as Curtis defends Olyroos tournament

It was slammed as insignificant by some A-League coaches but Olyroo captain Curtis Good believes the recent AFC Under-22 Championship will help Australia qualify for the Olympics.

Sixteen junior national sides from across Asia gathered in Oman in January, with Iraq winning the tournament.

The Olyroos topped their group, despite a 4-0 loss to Japan, but were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Saudia Arabia in a 2-1 defeat.

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat described the tournament as “insignificant”.

The Newcastle Jets then-boss Gary van Egmond called it a “blight on the game,” saying Australia’s rising stars would be better served playing in the A-League.

Former Socceroo Mark Bosnich said Football Federation Australia’s decision to take players away from the A-League for the Omani tournament was “degrading”.

Good, however, is adamant the tournament provided valuable experience.

“It was definitely worthwhile, 100%,” the 20-year-old said.

“You see all these other national teams and the amount of times they get together and they’re always playing together.

“I think it’s vital, especially for young Australians, to play as much international football as you can. It really helps.”

The defender, who just this year joined Dundee United on loan from EPL giants Newcastle, said he enjoyed the tournament.

“I got to play with a lot of mates I haven’t seen for a while, it reminded me of the old institute days,” he added.

“I thought it was very helpful that tournament even though we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped.

“We got through the group stage quite easily and we were out in the quarters - so pretty disappointed with our result. But overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

The Olyroos failed to qualify for the last Olympics in London in 2012, and did not a score in their qualification campaign. The Joeys also missed out on last year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

The 2015 AFC Under-22 Championship, also known as the AFC U-22 Asian Cup, will double as the 2016 Olympic qualifiers with the top three teams in the tournament booking their ticket to Rio de Janiero.

Good, who has played for the Young Socceroos and the Olyroos, said Australian players need experience against Asian teams in Asian conditions.

“It’s really important with us nowadays being in Asia (to play Asian teams) for future tournaments,” he said.