The Olyroos are in Tokyo to win a medal. But for players like Nick D’Agostino and Daniel Arzani, this is also a chance to show the world’s clubs what they can offer.
D’Agostino dream becomes reality
Nicholas D’Agostino scored the goal that sent Australia to the Olympic Games for the first time since Beijing in 2008. A surging run from deep, gliding past the Uzbekistan defence before side-footing home on his right foot.
The Olyroo star has since been released by Perth Glory and D’Agostino will be able to tempt suitors if he can replicate his form from the qualifying round.
“It was definitely the highest point of my career, a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” he said of the goal.
“I picked up the ball and started running and it seemed like no one could stop me… the celebrations after the game, to have all the boys dancing around my jersey in the changerooms was a special moment that’s for sure.
“I’ve had two great years with Perth and enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve come away as a free agent and I’m looking to put my best foot forward and show the world and different people what I can do and put my name in the hat.”
Arzani back in Aussie colours
D’Agostino is not the only Olyroo that is looking to catch the eye of recruiters. 2018 World Cup bolter Daniel Arzani is another currently without a club.
Coach Graham Arnold says Arzani’s selection, despite limited time on the pitch, is for his and Australia’s benefit.
“We want to help resurrect his career,” the manager said paternally.
“He looks extremely fit, he looks well. Things haven’t gone his way (after) all those high expectations were put on him after 2018. It hasn’t gone the way that he wanted it to so what do we do? Help the kid out or burn him out?”
“Daniel is a great talent, we want to help him move forward.”
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Arnie Stoked to select Souttar
One player whose selection is no surprise is tall defender Harry Souttar. The Stoke City centre-back was a standout performer while on Socceroos duty with six goals in four games.
Souttar is a starter for Stoke and his value is rising in England after a strong season of cold wet nights. A positive performance in Tokyo will further enhance his burgeoning reputation.
Arnold is delighted with the attitude and ability he has shown in the Green and Gold.
“Harry’s got a lot of passion for Australia and you can see that with the Socceroos. He’s very mature for a 21-year-old and he’s been a great pickup and a great find.”
Clubs are no longer under any obligation to release players for Olympic football and Arnold singled out Souttar’s club for their co-operation with their star asset.
“Stoke City have been so supportive of Harry and his release. Michael O’Neill has had the experience of coaching Northern Ireland… he’s got an early release, they want what’s best for Harry the player, they know how much Harry wants to play for Australia.
“Harry is a kid that goes and bangs on the manager’s door and says ‘I want to do this and I want to go to the Olympics’ and makes it clear that it’ll be better for him in the long run and better for Stoke City.”
D’Agostino daring to impress the world
For D’Agostino, after waiting so long to be an Olympian, there is only excitement.
“Now that it’s finally here… I can’t wait to go over there and (play) the best players in the world and I’m looking forward to it immensely,” he said.
“My Olympic memories are actually about the smaller nations that go to the Olympic games and show the world what they can do… I think that’s what we’re going to set out to do.
“Australia’s not one of the best countries in the world at football and we’re looking to change that.
“We’ve got the talent to go over there and shock the world.”
Australia opens its Olympic campaign against Argentina on July 22.
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