fbpx

Despite a lack of funding and support, Arnold’s Olyroos are punching well above their weight

Graham Arnold’s recent comments on ABC Grandstand in regards to the lack of funding and support given to Australian football’s junior national teams, were laced with frustration.

He should know.

The Socceroos boss is currently fulfilling his second most important job and attempting to guide the Olyroos to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics via the AFC U-23 Championships in Thailand. It would be an impressive achievement should the former Sydney FC manager pull it off, with Australia having failed to qualify for the previous two games and only ever twice advancing beyond the group stage.

That reality is a far cry from the Olyroos inaugural appearance in 1992, where a creditable fourth place was achieved in Barcelona. Since, things have been lean. Until now that is.

Watching potentially the best crop of youthful talent we have seen for some time advance to the semi-finals has been thrilling.

Al Hassan Toure’s extra-time goal against Syria sent Australia into the final four, with all remaining countries well aware that there are only three spots up for grabs due to Japan’s automatic qualification as hosts.

Draws with Iraq and Bahrain, along with an absorbing win over Thailand in the group stage, preceded the victory over Syria. Now South Korea becomes the next target, with Arnold’s men confident and more assured as they move within one victory of a ticket to an Olympic experience.

Arnold’s frustration around the money and support given to Australia’s best young footballers stems from his immense experience as a domestic and international player, championship winning A-League manager and his current role as the mentor of both the Olyroos and Socceroos.

The 56-year-old made it abundantly clear of his dissatisfaction at having just two of his Olyroos with experience in and around the Socceroos squad; gaining experience and knowledge.

Opposition teams in Thailand are nurturing their youth, exposing them at the top level and preparing for the next generation of footballers. They do so by investing money and resources that in turn create more matches and tournaments within which their national team competes. That allows for developmental players to enjoy a taste of what potentially lies ahead in their careers; creating a fluid link between the U-23 squad and the full national team.

Both Bahrain and Jordan arrived in Thailand with six players having already been granted full national caps. Arnold’s disappointment lies in the fact that of his squad, Thomas Deng has just the solitary appearance for the Socceroos, whilst Alex Gersbach has played six times in full national colours.

Sadly, without further investment and subsequent opportunity, Arnold’s Socceroo teams will continue to be picked with limited developmental intention. The current reality for the Socceroos is World Cup qualification and Asian Cup play or bust, with an absence of further friendlies or tournaments for the manager to see the next wave of Socceroos perform.

When combined with the fact that many of Australia’s best young players are given only limited opportunity abroad with their clubs, it could be suggested that Australia’s talented youth is playing less football than many of their counterparts across the globe.

Despite Arnold’s concerns and the need to address the current structures and level of investment, the squad has taken a typically Australian approach to its work in Thailand, punching well above its weight and now seeming capable of winning the event.

Even without the recently returned from injury Daniel Arzani and the suspended quartet of Lachlan Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson, Brandon Wilson and Riley McGree, the team has gelled under Arnold. Nicholas D’Agostino, Reno Piscopo and Toure have announced themselves to the football world.

Tom Glover looks a goal keeper of immense promise, whilst Dennis Genreau and Connor Metcalfe appear to have a kit bag of tools that should one day seem them as important members of the Socceroos. With McGree permitted to play in Tokyo should Australia qualify, Arzani back into calculations and Arnold keen to increase the opportunities for a selected group of Olyroo players with a trip to the Copa America this winter, the future holds much promise.

No doubt Arnold will remain frustrated in the near future; desperately keen to see more of what appears to be an exciting wave of talent appearing in Australia. Vast sums to invest are simply not available in the current climate and shrewd management of resources is required to ensure that these young emerging stars fulfil their potential.

As for now, let’s hope they keep punching well above their weight, despite the challenges, and find their way to the Olympics for the adventure of a lifetime.

Soccerscene is committed to promoting, enhancing and growing the soccer industry in Australia. We believe soccer news has captured the attention of grassroots soccer clubs, apparel and equipment suppliers – which extends to governing bodies, club administrators and industry decision makers. Many of the auxiliary products and services support the growth of the soccer industry in Australia and Asia, a passion we also share and want to express through our work.

The Football Coaching Life with Alen Stajcic: “I knew that I had more to give back to the sport”

Alen Stajcic

Football Coaches Australia is delighted to present the latest episode of the ‘Football Coaching Life Podcast’, with Gary Cole interviewing former Australia Women’s National Team and Central Coast Mariners A-League Men’s coach Alen Stajcic.

Alen is currently Head Coach of the Philippines Women’s National Team. The side, nicknamed the Malditas (yes that’s correct!), are being prepared for the 2022 AFC Asian Cup held in India. The Philippines will play in a group with Indonesia, Thailand and of course Australia (the Matildas).

Alen’s Serbian background led him to Bonnyrigg White Eagles in Sydney’s west, but a knee injury shortened his playing career and as a teacher he began coaching.

Staj has had a remarkable coaching journey that began at the Hills Sports High School and at New South Wales Institute of Sport, coaching the Sapphires in the Women’s National Soccer League. Both of these institutions saw teams achieve repeated successes with championship wins, but Alen learned that success comes in many ways.

He had an early taste of coaching the Matildas in an Assistant Coach role with the Young Matildas at the 2006 World Cup in Russia, before becoming the inaugural Head Coach at Sydney FC Women, which saw them win two championships and two premierships, as well as third place at the FIFA International Women’s Club Championship.

Then followed five fantastic years as Head Coach of the Matildas, during which they beat Brazil and World Champions USA for the first time, changing the belief of the players and achieving successes at the Asian Cup, Olympic Games and World Cup.

Alen’s ‘One Piece of Wisdom’ was: ‘It’s got to be fun; you’ve got to enjoy it because it’s a tough job. Coaching can be a lonely experience, so you’ve really got to find the enjoyment, fun and reward and the connection to what it is you want to achieve. If it’s not fun it’s just too tough a job!’

Please join us in sharing Alen Stajcic’s Football Coaching Life.

Football Queensland appoints new staff in regional areas

Football Queensland has appointed three new staff in Wide Bay and Central Coast regions of Queensland to bolster services in those areas.

Football Queensland has appointed three new staff in Wide Bay and Central Coast regions of Queensland to bolster services in those areas.

Experienced coach Alec Wilson has joined FQ as Senior Manager in Club Development, Talent and Coaching.

Wilson holds an AFC A License with experience in sporting organisations across the globe, headlined by Football South Australia, New Zealand Football and the FIFA U-20 World Cup. He will be based in Wide Bay, Central Coast and the Sunshine Coast where he will work with different clubs and coaches.

The other appointments are Joao Abreu and Rebecca Toohey, both as new Football Queensland Managers. Abreu will be in charge of Wide Bay, while Toohey will be based in the Central Regions.

Abreu is a highly qualified sports management professional who previously worked as Director of Coaching at Toowong FC and as manager of a futsal centre in Brisbane.

Toohey has extensive knowledge of regional sporting communities, having worked with the Australian Sports Commission, CQ University and local football clubs & fitness centres.

Football Queensland Central Coast Region General Manager, Andy Allan:

“Alec, Joao and Rebecca bring a wealth of knowledge and talent to the regions and will work closely with our local football communities to achieve positive outcomes for the game,” he said.

“To have a coach of Alec’s pedigree and technical experience is a huge boost for local players and coaches in the Central Coast Region.

“In the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, FQ identified the need to grow the game throughout the state and provide high-quality participation experiences.

“These appointments are proof of Football Queensland’s ongoing investment in regional football as we work to achieve those outcomes.”

© 2021 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks