Melbourne City FC young guns Ramy Najjarine, Connor Metcalfe, Denis Genreau, Tom Glover and Australia's U-23 men's national football team have booked their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after defeating Uzbekistan 1-0 at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium on Saturday night.
The win over the White Wolves not only ensured that Australia will return to the Olympic Games in men’s football for the first time since Beijing 2008, it also meant that the green and gold finished a commendable third at the AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 – their best ever finish at the 16-nation biannual tournament.
Australia’s appearance at this year’s Olympics was sealed with help from a fine goal early in the second half from marksman Nicholas D’Agostino.
Following the fixture in Bangkok, Australia’s Head Coach in Thailand, Graham Arnold hailed his side’s effort and attitude.
“I am really proud of the way they worked this whole tournament,” Arnold said. “Their attitude has been fantastic, we probably came in and we weren’t the strongest team in Asia, or close to being the strongest team, we were ranked number 11 in Asia when we came in.”
“To create what we have just achieved is so huge for Australian football because it is the first time that we have qualified for the Olympics for 12 years and I do know that when you have a great pathway, a great preparation for the Olympics, then it creates six or seven top Socceroo players and for the senior national team and that is very important.”
“That (game against Uzbekistan) would 100 per cent be the biggest game of their careers and their lives. They have not experienced anything like that at club land as well as obviously with the national teams, so it has been a wonderful learning process for the players and I felt that we dealt with it very well.”
All four of City's youngsters played a crucial role throughout the tournament helping their side secure Olympic qualification.