A blockbuster calendar provides Australian football with huge opportunities over the next eleven months.
Last week, in what will be music to the ears of new FFA CEO James Johnson, the Olyroos passed a very important test.
The under-23 national team defeated Uzbekistan in the third-place playoff match at the AFC U-23 Championship, thanks to a solo effort from Nick D’Agostino.
Therefore, for the first time in 12 years, Australia will have a men’s football side competing at the Olympic games in Tokyo.
Discussions have already begun around who will be picked for the tournament, as Graham Arnold can also call up three over-age players for the tournament in late July.
The Copa America which Australia will be a part of this year will also factor into Graham Arnold’s decision making.
The South American continental championship also begins a month before the Olympics and the narrow time-frame between both tournaments poses a lot of questions for the Australian coach.
Will he choose a full-strength squad for the Copa America? Which tournament does he favour? Who will be the over-age players in the Olympic squad? Will the likes of Ryan and Mooy play in both tournaments? Or will their English Premier League clubs’ frown upon that?
These are good headaches to have, with exposure to these tournaments crucial for not only youth development but also to build the profile of Australia’s national teams.
Commercially, the FFA seems to be struggling in recent times with sponsors such as NAB and Caltex ending their partnerships with the governing body.
Participating in worldwide tournaments such as this can only improve the FFA’s situation, as potential sponsors see attractive possibilities.
Whilst the men’s teams may not stand a good chance of placing well in either of these tournaments, the Matildas do.
Unlike the men’s tournament, the women have no age restrictions placed on them at the Olympics, meaning Australia’s top players such as Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley are all expected to play.
Australia’s favourite national sporting team playing at the Olympics in a good time zone for Australian viewers, should lead to considerable corporate sponsorship interest.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The women’s national team are yet to qualify for the Olympics, with qualifiers for the tournament set to be held in Sydney next week.
The qualifiers were under threat due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which was the reason the games were shifted to Sydney in the first place.
The qualifying tournament will go ahead next week, which will boost the coffers at FFA HQ, with games to be played at Campbelltown and Bankwest Stadium.
However, of greater focus to the FFA is the successful hosting of the tournament on such short notice and impressing FIFA in the year the host of the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be announced.
The announcement of the host for 2023 is due in June, with Japan, Colombia and Brazil vying for the honour (alongside Australia and New Zealand’s co-bid).
If the tournament hosting rights were to be won by Australia and New Zealand, FFA would be rubbing their hands together with glee at the long-term benefits that would have on the sport.
But first, Chinese Taipei at home on Thursday and hopefully one step closer to having both male and female teams at the Olympic Games.
And I haven’t even mentioned the road to Qatar 2022…