Olyroos’ Paris dreams all but shattered

Indonesia v Australia - AFC U23 Asian Cup Group A
Jordan Courtney-Perkins is shattered after the Olyroos’ 1-0 loss to Indonesia. Picture: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Socceroos great Robbie Slater says the Olyroos will “regret” not selecting A-League teenage sensation Nestory Irankunda, with their dreams of qualifying for the Olympic Games all but over after a shock 1-0 loss to Indonesia.

To guarantee themselves a spot at this year’s Paris Games, the Olyroos must finish in the top three at the under-23 Asian Cup in Qatar, while fourth will earn them a playoff against African nation Guinea for an Olympics berth.

However, the Australians have acquired just one point from their opening two Group A matches and are yet to score a goal.

To have any hope of securing the top-two pool berth needed to progress to the quarter-finals, the Olyroos must beat runaway Group A leaders Qatar on Monday morning (AEST).

The Australians also need Jordan – who also have one point from two Group A games – to beat Indonesia in a game also being played on Monday morning but not by a greater margin than their own required win over Qatar, as both the Olyroos and Jordan have the same goal difference (-1).

Qatar has already secured a quarter-final berth with six points from two games, while Indonesia, who have three points, only need a draw against Jordan to also progress to the last eight.

Indonesia v Australia - AFC U23 Asian Cup Group A
Disappointed Olyroos trio (from left) Lachlan Brook, Jordi Valadon and Patrick Beach reflect on their team’s 1-0 loss to Indonesia. Picture: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

The Olyroos had chances to beat Indonesia, including a first-half penalty from striker Mohamed Toure that was saved by goalkeeper Ernando Ari.

The Australians then fell behind in the 45th minute when Komang Teguh headed home from close range.

Olyroos coach Tony Vidmar brought on a host of attackers in the second half, including the Kuol brothers Alou and Garang, but Indonesia held on to put a massive dent in the Australians’ hopes of Olympic Games qualification.

Adelaide United attacker Irankunda, who will join Bayer Munich at the end of the season, wasn’t selected in the initial Olyroos squad for his own “welfare”.

However, after winger Marco Tilio withdrew from the squad through injury, Vidmar inquired about the availability of Irankunda, but was met with a negative response from Adelaide.

It led to some clubs asking why Irankunda should be able to continue playing in the A-League when they had lost players to Olyroos duty.

“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but goal-scoring is obviously a problem for the Olyroos, and you can only regret that someone who’s in goalscoring form at the moment, Irankunda, who’s a good finisher, isn’t there,” Slater said.

“You can’t make him play (for the Olyroos) but they (Football Australia) can stop him from playing here if he didn’t go, and they didn’t do that.”

Vidmar said the Olyroos played “some really good football” against Indonesia but let themselves down at both ends of the park.

“You can have all the territory advantage in the middle of the field, but the points are won inside both boxes,” he said.