Soccer-No impact on senior side from Olympic failure, says Australia’s Vidmar

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 3:10 AM

By Michael Church

DOHA (Reuters) – Coach Tony Vidmar does not believe Australia’s long-term prospects at senior level will be affected by his team’s failure to qualify for the Olympic Games after the Olyroos exited Asia’s under-23 championship without scoring a goal.

The toothless Australians drew 0-0 with hosts Qatar on Sunday to crash out of the competition after opening their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Jordan before suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Indonesia.

Qatar and Indonesia have advanced to the quarter-finals to maintain their hopes of claiming one of the three guaranteed slots at the Olympics in Paris allotted to Asia while the Australians are returning home.

“They played some unbelievable, fantastic football,” Vidmar said of his team after the draw with the Qataris.

“There was just a little bit of luck not coming on our side for the ball to go in the goal. We created many chances, but that’s been our story.”

Vidmar’s squad featured few of the nation’s Europe-based players due to the tournament being held outside a recognised FIFA international window, meaning clubs were not obliged to release players for the competition.

The coach was also subject to criticism in Australia over his refusal to select Bayern Munich-bound Adelaide United striker Nestory Irankunda and the 18-year-old’s scintillating attacking threat was missed.

National team coach Graham Arnold has spoken repeatedly of the importance of qualification for the Olympics for the senior side’s development, but Vidmar does not believe being absent from Paris will have a detrimental effect.

“I don’t think there will be an impact, the previous times when we haven’t qualified players have still come through,” he said.

“A lot of these players will continue on for the next two years for the next (under-23) Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia and they will have gained valuable experience moving forward.

“That’s the benefit, that’s why as a country we’re playing in Asia because this type of football is new for a lot of the players.

“Our benefit long term is for national team players and this exposure for them is going to be beneficial.”

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Miral Fahmy)