'No excuses' for Olyroos in Tokyo bid

Anna Harrington
Graham Arnold's Olyroos continue their Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign on Wednesday in Thailand

Olympic qualification for the first time since 2008 is on the agenda when the Olyroos kick off their AFC U-23 Championship campaign on Wednesday night.

Graham Arnold's side are in Group A and will face Iraq, hosts Thailand and Bahrain, with the top two teams from the four groups advancing to the quarter-finals.

The tournament's top three teams will join Olympic hosts Japan at Tokyo 2020, meaning the two finalists and the third-place play-off winner all qualify. If Japan reach the last four, all semi-finalists will qualify.

"My expectations of these boys is of high standards and quality and going into every game expecting to win every game," Arnold told AAP.

"A lot of work that I've had to do in the last week and at other times with these boys is on the mental side of sport and on the mental side of the game - helping the players believe in themselves and get the belief in each other of what the team can bring to the table.

"I've always been big on the mental side of the game and in sport and in life in general - and that is to enjoy what you're doing but also get maximum out of your potential.

"(On Tuesday) I sat with the boys and we had a couple of meetings and the boys are in a great headspace, they're physically ready, there's no excuses - they've acclimatised and we're ready to go."

The Olyroos headed to Kuala Lumpur for a training camp and friendly against South Korea to acclimatise and prepare before travelling to Thailand.

In a modified game with 50-minute halves, where both teams changed line-ups at halftime, the Olyroos drew 1-1 with South Korea, with Al Hassan Toure scoring for Australia.

"All these other teams have been in camp for three or four weeks, we're obviously in the middle of the A-League and it's been important, those five or six days before we came to Thailand," Arnold said.

Thomas Deng (groin) and Denis Genreau (shoulder) were among the players who had injuries before coming into camp but Arnold said his team was "in good shape", with heavy squad rotation expected given they will play three group games in seven days.

Australia made a pre-tournament squad change last week, with Adelaide goalkeeper Daniel Margush replacing injured Sydney counterpart Thomas Heward-Belle.

Harry Souttar and Daniel Arzani were unavailable, while Australia are also without suspended quartet Riley McGree, Lachlan Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson and Brandon Wilson.

OLYROOS SQUAD

Keanu Baccus, Daniel Bouman, Trent Buhagiar, Gabriel Cleur, Nicholas D'Agostino, Thomas Deng, Zach Duncan, Ben Folami, Denis Genreau, Alex Gersbach, Thomas Glover (GK), Jordan Holmes (GK), Jacob Italiano, Joshua Laws, Daniel Margush (GK), Connor Metcalfe, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Ramy Najjarine, Aiden O'Neill, Connor O'Toole, Reno Piscopo, Dylan Ryan, Al Hassan Toure.

GROUP A FIXTURES

Iraq U-23 v Australia U-23

5.15pm local /9.15pm AEDT, Wednesday, 8 January, Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand

Australia U-23 v Thailand U-23

8.15pm local/12.15am +1 AEDT, Saturday 11 January, Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand

Australia U-23 v Bahrain U-23

8.15pm local/12.15am +1 AEDT, Tuesday, 14 January 2020, Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand