Olympic Games dream the spur: Milligan
Qantas Under 23’s captain Mark Milligan has no doubts the spur that will drive his team to victory against Iraq on Saturday in Gosford, is the dream of every Australian to participate at an Olympic Games.
Qantas Under 23-s captain Mark Milligan has no doubts the spur that will drive his team to victory against Iraq on Saturday in Gosford, is the dream of every Australian to participate at an Olympic Games.
Milligan agreed with his coach Graham Arnold that playing in the Olympic Games is up there with playing at a World Cup, simply because for most footballers it-s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It-s massive,” when he was asked what it would mean to him to go to the Olympic Games. “I think Arnie (Graham Arnold) summed it up a couple of weeks, when he said in some ways its bigger than the World Cup. You really only get one shot at the Olympics with the age group thing.
“To go to a World Cup was always a dream of mine (he achieved that in 2006) and to go to an Olympics, I think is a dream of every Australian.
“For our age group, Beijing is the biggest footballing stage in the world, so it-s very important for our careers that we be there and we be playing well and to help us further our careers.
As the Sydney FC midfielder expected, the result of this group was always going to come down to this match, with both teams level on points, but Iraq effectively ahead with a plus 3 better goal difference.
“It-s pretty much come down to us and Iraq on points and that-s the way we thought it was going to play out from the beginning,” he said after a testing training session. “This is the most important game for us this weekend; we have to get a result and we have to get a good result.
“We have played very well at home and we need to just continue that trend.”
Milligan is confident the frustration of not winning in Lebanon will not play on the players minds and is confident they will take those frustrations on Iraq.
“Lebanon is behind us, it was just one of those games and these things happen in football. Although we dominated, we couldn-t score, but at home our scoring record and our defensive record has been excellent throughout, not only this part of the qualifying campaign but earlier on as well.
“Hopefully we-ll get a good crowd out here; the boys are always confident at home and everything should go well.”
“The last few days in camp, everything seems very relaxed and I-ve been together with these boys for a long while now and when the boys are relaxed that-s when we seem to play our best. Everyone-s happy; we-ve been training well and have another couple days training, but again very confident.”
Milligan, who himself has missed several qualifying games through injury and suspension, praised the depth in the squad and it will again be tested with the likes of Stuart Musialik and Bruce Djite absent through injury.
“They are going to be missed dearly, but we do have one of our biggest squads into this camp. All our overseas boys are back, I think (Neil) Kilkenny is due in tomorrow (Wednesday); I think he is one of the last to come in. We have enough talent to field two good teams and hopefully we-ll get everyone on the park and no injuries.”
With the game of such importance, Milligan is hopeful that the fans come in their droves and help them to victory.
“The fans of Central Coast, the fans of Sydney, Newcastle; I know we might play against each other on weekends, but this weekend we are playing together and we need a big crowd to help us along.”
Tickets can be pre-purchased from Ticketek or from 5.00pm on match-day at the venue. Gates open at 6.00pm.