Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has his eyes on the Olyroos.
Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has his eyes on the Olyroos.

Copa America on offer for Olyroos

THE Olyroos could be rewarded with the unprecedented chance to play at June's Copa America, Graham Arnold has revealed.

Australia opens its 2020 Olympic qualifiers in Thailand against Iraq on Wednesday night, with the top three of the 16-team tournament qualifying for Tokyo.

Socceroos boss Arnold faces a predicament with the prestigious Copa America tournament - to which Australia received its first invitation - kicking off just days after the World Cup qualifier against Jordan.

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Arnold revealed that he may use up to 45 players in June, including his Olyroos, incorporating the current squad plus Daniel Arzani (Celtic), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town) and potentially the suspended quartet.

"Development is way of thinking. Qualify for the Olympics and take the Olyroo team (to the Copa America) before Tokyo," Arnold said.

"Only 18 (players) go to the Olympics, and three are over-age, so maybe you can take 15 Olyroos and eight over-age (Copa America has 23-man squads), three of whom will come to Tokyo with us.

"But we've got to get through this first step. If we qualify this month, I may look to the Copa America to build depth for the second phase of the (World Cup) campaign.

"You've got to respect the main players with how much travelling they're doing through the year and games they're playing.

Melbourne City midfielder Denis Genreau is one who could earn a Copa America berth. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City midfielder Denis Genreau is one who could earn a Copa America berth. Picture: AAP

"Japan used the Copa America for their Olympic team. It's the A-League off-season, I need to think more about it down the track - it's a good chance to look at it both ways.

"The Socceroos have got another four games (in 2020). We've got the Jordan game on June 9 and the first Copa game is on the 13th in Buenos Aires, so we've got to get there quickly or use the depth we've built to play that."

Arnold, who took charge of the Socceroos from July 2018, said the biggest challenge has been adding depth to the senior team.

He also said that Olyroos success was crucial to the Socceroos' future.

Arnold is conscious of the workload of Socceroos regulars like Aaron Mooy. Picture: Getty
Arnold is conscious of the workload of Socceroos regulars like Aaron Mooy. Picture: Getty

"The hardest thing for me has been in a lot of ways, I'm having to do this development at Socceroos level when at Olyroos level it should already be done," he said.

"That's why I did the Olyroos. I truly believe, and statistics show a successful Olympic campaign will produce 6-8 Socceroos players that will play 50 caps plus.

"If we do get through this - and we will get through this Olyroo campaign and qualify, out of this group, from what I've seen, there will be over six kids knocking on the door by June for Socceroos selection.

Denmark-based full back Alex Gersbach already owns a Socceroos cap. Picture: George Salpigtidis
Denmark-based full back Alex Gersbach already owns a Socceroos cap. Picture: George Salpigtidis

"We're here to qualify. First of all, the full focus for me is to go there and win the Under 23 Asian Cup. By doing that, the rest will look after itself."

News Corp Australia


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