The Olyroos may have reached Tokyo 2020 with all the finesse of Eric the Eel, but there’s no doubt their qualification is a huge achievement and a major boost for Australian football.
The Socceroos will play in next year’s Copa America, in what could be Argentina legend Lionel Messi’s international swansong.
The head of South America’s football confederation confirmed on Thursday Australia will take part in the tournament along with fellow Asian confederation member Qatar as guest nations.
The 2020 tournament will be held jointly in Colombia and Argentina and will feature the 10 South American nations as well as the two guests.
Asian champions Qatar and Japan are taking part in this year’s Copa which starts on Friday (Saturday AEST).
One of the guest nations will be drawn in the Colombia-based northern section along with Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.
The other will be drawn in the Argentina-based southern section along with Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile.
Many are speculating the tournament could be 31-year-old Messi’s last for Argentina.
It would also represent a huge opportunity for Graham Arnold’s men for competitive football before the 2022 World Cup.
It would also be the third regional championship Australia has participated in after playing in the Oceania Nations Cup before the switch to join the Asian confederation in 2006.