Three Brisbane Roar players – Jamie Maclaren, James Donachie and Brandon Borrello – have been named in a 23-player Olyroos squad to contest the AFC Under-23 Championships in Qatar next month.
The trio will be eligible for selection for the Roar’s next two home Hyundai A-League games, against Melbourne City on Sunday, 27 December (6pm KO) and against Perth Glory on Saturday, 2 January (4.15pm KO) but could miss up to four games after that depending on how the Australian team fares.
The tournament runs from 14-30 January and is the final round of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Australians need to finish in the top three to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Maclaren (below) said to play at the Olympics had always been a personal goal of his but he admitted he can’t afford to look too far ahead.
“I’ve got two games to go for Brisbane Roar first (before the Championships) and I want to keep my form through that and hopefully go away and continue that form,” he said.
Maclaren, with six goals, is the Roar’s leading scoring. He says there are numerous in-form players to cover his absence.
“We have a big squad,” he said.
“Ricky (Henrique), (Jean Carlos) Solorzono coming back, Dimi (Petratos) – they are all scoring goals so there will be boys coming in who can do the job.”
Donachie and Borrello earned their Olyroos selection despite limited Hyundai A-League minutes in recent weeks because of the strength and form of the Roar squad, whcih is second on the competition ladder.
“It’s good to know that I am still in there,” said Donachie (below).
“I still think I can go away and do some damage. I feel fit and mentally I feel good.
“Our training intensity (at the Roar) is high and has got me prepared.”
Borrello (below) said he was happy to achieve a target he had set at the beginning of the season.
“This is another step along the way,” he said.
“The goals might have dried up for the moment but whenever I get a chance I will try to get in scoring positions and score some goals.”
Socceroos Chris Ikonomidis, Josh Brillante, Adam Taggart and Terry Antonis headline the squad that also includes overseas-based starlets Daniel de Silva and Mustafa Amini as well as 12 players from the Hyundai A-League.
“The A-League clubs and coaches should be congratulated for the part they play in developing these players,” Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar said.
“We have taken the group through an important journey with qualifying, camps and friendly matches but this is a step up in class that they have to take in their development as international football players.
“We head to Qatar for a tough tournament but we have a good group of players that and we’re confident we can qualify for the Olympic Games, which is a great opportunity for the players.”
The Olyroos will have a seven-day camp in Dubai before the opening match in Group D against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 14 January at the Grand Hamad Stadium.
The Olyroos also play Vietnam (17 January) and Jordan (20 January) with the top two teams progressing to the quarter finals.
Australian Under-23 squad: Mustafa AMINI (Randers FC, Denmark), Terry ATONIS (PAOK, Greece), Brandon BORRELLO (Brisbane Roar FC), Josh BRILLANTE (Calcio Como, Italy), Cameron BURGESS (Fulhan FC, England), Daniel DESILVA (Roda JC Kerkrade, Holland), Thomas DENG (Melbourne Victory FC), James DONACHIE (Brisbane Roar FC), Jack DUNCAN (Randers FC, Denmark), Ryan EDWARDS (Partick Thistle, Scotland), Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO (Melbourne Victory FC), Scott GALLOWAY (Melbourne Victory FC), Jason GERIA (Melbourne Victory FC), Alex GERSBACH (SYDNEY FC), Andrew HOOLE (Sydney FC), Christopher IKONOMIDIS (SS Lazio, Italy), Paul IZZO (Central Coast Mariners), Aaron LENNOX (Kilmarnock FC, Scotland), Jamie MACLAREN (Brisbane Roar FC), Stefan MAUK (Melbourne City FC), Connor PAIN (Melbourne Victory FC), Adam TAGGART (Dundee United, Scotland), Steven UGARKOVIC (uncontracted)