Former Olyroos coach believes if men’s team gets out of group they could medal

Written by on 17 July 2021

Former Olyroos coach Frank Farina believes if the Australia’s men football team can progress from the group stage they can dare to dream about an Olympic medal.

COVID-19 has made the Tokyo Olympics the most unpredictable ever and could create surprises as each team’s preparations have been impacted.

While Australia is not one of the fancied nations for a medal, Farina says Australia should set their expectations as they go.

“I think for the Olyroos it will be tough, on paper they have a very difficult group.

“If we can get through that group phase then it is game on.

“I think you can start dreaming of that if you get through the first stage until then get through that first stage,” Farina said.

Frank Farina, 49, was the national coach while the Olyroos competed at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.

Australia’s best men’s result at an Olympic Games came when Farina coached the Olyroos to the 2004 quarterfinals where they lost 1-0 to Iraq.

The 2004 Olympics football team featured the likes of Tim Cahill, John Aloisi and Alex Brosque who went on to have legendary Socceroo careers.

“I think if they get through that group stage and qualify for the second round as we did in 2004, we were very unlucky to miss the medal rounds.

“Ideally in a perfect world we would say we would like a medal and be the first from the men’s side but let’s not put the cart before the horse on this one,” Farina said.

Australia has drawn Argentina as they did in the 2004 Olympic Games along with Spain and Egypt in a tough Group C.

Farina believes tournament football is very unpredictable and given the pandemic it makes the playing field much more even.

“We have to see what teams the Argentines and Spanish will come out with, and I think the Matildas are the same.

“If your team turns up in physically good shape, in form, anything can happen in tournament football.

“You could have the best squad in the world but if the players aren’t in form or if they are not fit enough you are going to struggle, Farina said.

The former national coach sees similarities in his campaign compared to the one Australia is about to embark on as they look to win their first football medal in their sixth attempt.

“Arnie (Graham Arnold) is taking the same approach that I had in 2004 where the national coach takes the Olympics on so long as it doesn’t clash with national team commitments.

“Graham has full control over his selection process, and I think that is a good thing because the under 23s already have a nucleus that will be part of the national team, so it fits hand in glove.

“The most important thing is trying to get that balance and I think Arnie has got it pretty good,” Farina said.

Australia’s first game will be against Argentina on Thursday July 22 at 8:30pm AEST inside the Sapporo Dome.

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