Olyroos, Iraq look to future

By , 14 Mar 2012

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    Australia and Iraq, both out of contention for the London Olympics, will be mainly looking at the future when their under-23 teams meet on Wednesday night in Gosford.

    Both nations begin qualifying rounds for the inaugural under-22 Asian Cup in June, and this match is an opportunity to cast an eye on eligible talent.

    “We are here to prepare for the next stage, which is the Asian Cup under-22s. We are here to build our team,” said Iraq’s head coach Radhi Swadi.

    Some of the Iraqis are also determined to press their claims for a spot in the senior team, which has been drawn in the same pool as the Socceroos for the final qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    “The closest team to national team is the Olympic team,” said Swadi.

    “We’re working step by step to choose those players which are ready for the national team, especially if we qualify for the World Cup.”

    Olyroos coach Aurelio Vidmar has faith that the 10 new faces introduced to the national scene will adapt to the pressure of an international fixture if chosen.

    “They’re all very keen to represent their country. Australians have great character in terms of wanting to play for their country,” said Vidmar.

    “It’s going to be a step higher as it is an international game against a very good Iraqi side.”

    Central Coast Mariners midfielder Mustafa Amini has been called into camp as a late replacement after Melbourne Victory’s James Jeggo succumbed to injury.

    Midfielder Ben Kantarovski said one full training session was not an ideal preparation but “everyone here knows how to play football”.

    “The aim is to go out there as a team and gel as quickly as possible,” said Kantarovski.

    The Olyoos are yet to net a goal in five matches of their qualifying campaign, and lie on the bottom of their pool with just three points.

    © AAP 2014
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