Olyroos ready and raring to go for opening match
The Australian Men’s Olympic Football team or the ‘Olyroos’, as they can be known at the Olympics, are ready and raring to go for tomorrow night’s opening game of the tournament against Serbia, according to team member Stuart Musialik.
The Australian Men-s Olympic Football team or the ‘Olyroos-, as they can be known at the Olympics, are ready and raring to go for tomorrow night-s opening game of the tournament against Serbia, according to team member Stuart Musialik.
The Sydney FC midfielder was in a relaxed frame of mind after training in Shanghai, but come Thursday night, he is confident the starting eleven who take the park will be all focus and ready to get the three points needed.
Coach Graham Arnold has a fully fit and acclimatized squad to choose from and after three good weeks of preparation, there will be no excuses.
“We-ve done a lot of preparation over the last 2-3 weeks; we have done a lot of acclimatizing and played some tough opposition, so all the boys are ready and raring to go,” Musialik said.
“Having a fully fit squad, that-s the most positive I suppose and Arnie has brought that up with us going into it (Thursday-s game). We are injury free and everyone-s 100% fit and it-s a massive positive going into a tournament like this.”
With the start only a day away, one would be forgiven, thinking the nerves and tension would be mounting, but the former Newcastle Jets player said the players were all fairly calm. , He also thinks it-s a good thing they are probably away from the hype of Beijing, so they can fully focus on the match, which is critically important in the whole context of the group matches.
“Everyone seems really relaxed. We went and watched the Boomers and the US Dream Team last night, to get out of the hotel and take our minds off things a little bit. So I think everyone seems nice and relaxed and ready to go.
“We spent a couple of days at the Athletes Village in Beijing and I think if were in there during the tournament there might have been too many distractions. So it-s probably a good thing for us to be in Shanghai and be away from all the excitement and means we can just focus on our games.
“This first game is vital to set us up for the rest of the tournament; we definitely need three points against Serbia and if we don-t get the three points against Serbia then it will make it very difficult for us from there. So hopefully we can get away to a good start and then concentrate on Argentina.”
Musialik also downplayed the three losses in the lead up and while disappointed with the results, he doesn-t believe that indicates they are in a form slump, as some would have you believe.
“We didn-t get the results we were looking for and while that was an aim in those games, to get the right result, we were playing in difficult conditions; trying to get used to them and up against top opposition in there own back yard.
“Arnie has also been working on a few different things, chopping and changing the line-up a little bit to try and sort out what he wants for the game against Serbia. Even though we didn-t get the results, I don-t think it-s that bad and we have achieved what we wanted to in the lead up games and were getting good quality game time into everyone, in these conditions, against good quality opposition.
“So hopefully it all comes together tomorrow.”
One of the key things Arnold has been working on is his defensive midfield, which is good news Musialik, where he has made a name for himself with the Jets over the past three seasons of the Hyundai A-League.
Musialik revealed that Arnold has been working on employing a two-man defensive midfield, which could see Musialik (if selected) paired with Mark Milligan, who has traditionally played as a central back in the team.
But Arnold has said on numerous occasions he is looking to push Milligan further forward, especially with the central defence one of the stronger areas of the team with Jade North-s inclusion.
“We have been working on the two holding midfielders instead of one since the New Zealand game and it looks like that the way Arnie wants to go. It-s a little bit different to what we-ve played the last two years but in these sorts of conditions it will suit us a bit more.
“It-s been good with him (Milligan); it breaks up the workload a little bit as defensively you don-t have to go right across the pitch. You can sit in front and try to block off the ball getting to the opposition-s attackers and in attack you have more options playing the ball out from the back.”
Asked if he felt good about starting against Serbia, the quietly-spoken Novocastrian was not giving anything away.
“He-s (Arnold) sort of being chopping and changing the starting line-up at training, so I don-t know which players he going to go with. At the moment I would say it-s pretty even, no real standouts or no players on the outer, with everyone getting a fair chance to impress.”
One thing that Musialik does acknowledge is that this tournament represents a terrific opportunity to showcase Australian football to the world and that the 2006 World Cup was not a one-off performance and that Australia has more up and coming footballers that can play on the international stage.
“We know we have been given the Group of Death and was always going to be tough, but we have spoken that if we do get through the group then anything can happen. But that-s going to be the hardest task; getting through the group, but we-ve had all the right preparation and there-s no reason why we shouldn-t be able to do that.
“After the World Cup performance and with the Hyundai A-League starting up and taking off, this is the next step to proving that football is moving ahead in Australia and getting on the map in the international side of the game.
“It-s a massive opportunity for us to do well and put Australia on the footballing map.”
Australia plays Serbia in its opening match on Thursday August 7, kicking off at 7.00pm AEST. The match can be seen on delay on Channel 7 from 9.00pm AEST.