The Olyroos campaign to Oman at the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Under 22 Tournament ended in the quarter-finals stage against Saudi Arabia. Despite losing out in the quarters the experience and familiarity the squad has cultivated will be important in the road ahead to the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
Perth Glory’s own Ryan Edwards says the time spent in Oman strengthened the playing group and created a better understanding among new and old youth national teammates.
“Yes definitely, from this 93 to 95 age group we’ve been playing with each other through previous youth squads, AIS and against each other.”
“All the boys thinking on the same page, the coaching staff is great, so yes definitely positive, we have some very good boys to come in the squad.
“The likes of Terry Antonis, Musti Amini, Jamie Maclaren and Ryan Williams people like that to add to the squad, so we’re all very excited to qualify for the Olympics.
The Olyroos had bred previous Socceroo generations in the past, as its been seen as somewhat of a rite of passage by many of the football community.
No different to Perth Glory’s on loan midfielder, Ryan Edwards, who feels a sense of pride when donning the Green and Gold, amidst the negative reaction of the AFC U22 tournament to some in the media.
“To play for your country and get that international experience is the best thing you can do in any age group any time of the year.”
“There shouldn’t be any negativity towards (the tournament), it should be positive.
It was labelled a “nothing” tournament by former Socceroo Robbie Slater, however, Edwards saw the tournament as a stepping stone for Olympic qualification.
“The level that we’re playing at for Olyroos (during the tournament) is to prepare for the Olympics, and that’s something no one can say something bad about,” Edwards said.
The Glory winger felt the views from former Socceroos were “shocking” and spoke at length about the difference in preparation undertaken in international football.
“The training (sessions) we had in Dubai were pretty intense and we had a very nice training pitch there, but then we went to Oman the pitches were very average to say the least.”
“We had to cut training sessions very light to make sure there weren’t any injuries, which the coaching staff did very well.
“The game every second day in the group stages and then couple days before the next one, but (Aurelio) Vidmar and (Paul) Okon were very good at giving everyone game time.”
The Glory man says the ambitions of the team is to qualify for the Olympics first and foremost, however, he feels Australia must go on from that with the goal to aim big.
“Me personally and I’ll probably speak for the team on this, is obviously one qualify for the Olympics.”
“And you go to football to win, not many Australian teams have gone and won tournaments.
“We want to win something, that’s why I felt this AFC U22 tournament was so important.”