Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar believes the Under-23s will be in the crosshairs of their opponents at the AFC Championship qualifiers in Taiwan next month following the Socceroos’ maiden Asian Cup success.
The Olyroos start the path to the Rio Olympics in Taiwan and they have been drawn alongside Chinese Tapai, Hong Kong and Myanmar.
The Australian Under-23s must top their group and if they do, they then must finish as one of the top three nations in a tournament in Qatar in January next year to book a spot in Brazil.
Vidmar, who is part of Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos coaching staff, said the senior team’s capture of the Asian Cup has also turned the spotlight on the Olyroos.
“I would think now that we are Asian champions we will be the hunted,” he told FourFourTwo.
“That's just the lay of the land, but we should embrace that pressure, and look forward to many more tough battles.
“We will be stronger as well, most of the younger players have now played in two major tournaments which gives them experience and confidence.”
Postecoglou’s plan is for the Socceroos and the other national teams, such as the Olyroos, to work closer together.
“There are a few areas where we need to be on par with the Socceroos,” Vidmar said.
“Ange wants all the national teams to be working together, in the way we analyse games and prepare for games and that needs to be in sync. It's a work in progress but we are committed to being the very best in all we do.
“The Asian Cup was an incredible ride. We started the competition off with a good result, got confidence and momentum. There was an unwavering belief that we could win it. We were all focused and committed to doing our very best.”
The Olyroos squad for the tournament in Taiwan will not be named until mid-Match.
“We have started preparations in terms of having a 50-strong player pool ready for submission to the AFC,” Vidmar said.
“We are also monitoring the players from Australia and overseas and as the weeks get closer to the tournament we will start to narrow that pool down to 23 that will travel to compete in Taiwan.”
Vidmar is confident the Olyroos will have a capable squad in Taiwan.
“There are no easy games in international football, so we have the upmost respect for our opponents,” he said.
“Hong Kong are our first opponents on the 27 March so we will be doing everything possible to have enough information to give back to the players. Myanmar qualified for the U20 World Cup so they have obviously made huge inroads at international level.
“Our mindset must always be to win the group, we will have a group capable of performing very well.”
INSET PHOTO: footballaustralia.com.aucomments