Sport Football Coach Graham Arnold says Olyroos have their eyes on the big prize
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Coach Graham Arnold says Olyroos have their eyes on the big prize

Graham Arnold is looking for the next generation of Socceroos. Photo: AAP
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The Olyroos are only one win away from ending Australia’s Olympic men’s football drought, but coach Graham Arnold says the job is only half done at the AFC Under-23 championships in Thailand.

A win in Wednesday night’s semi-final against Korea Republic (12.15am, Thursday AEDT) will be enough for Arnold’s team to book their spot in Tokyo.

Should Arnold’s team lose to the Koreans, they’ll still have a chance at qualifying through the third-place playoff against the defeated team from the other semi-final between Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Arnold is however aiming higher than mere qualification and has set his team the target of coming back from south-east Asia with the continental title.

“For me, we’ve achieved nothing yet. We’ve ticked two boxes and there’s four to be ticked,” he said.

“The first box that we ticked was we topped the group.

“The second one was to get through the quarter-final, and the third one is to win the semi-finals.

Our focus is winning that trophy … it hasn’t been done before and it’s something that’s quite special for Australia.

“All we’re doing is talking about that at the moment, building the players’ belief and confidence, and making sure they’re fresh and ready to go.”

Arnold’s team has the benefit of an extra day of rest over the Koreans, who defeated Jordan 2-1 on Sunday after coming through the group stage with a 100 per cent record.

However Saturday’s quarter-final win over Syria was a taxing one for the Olyroos, who progressed thanks to Al Hassan Toure’s extra-time winner.

Arnold said the ordeal of having to go through extra time to defeat the Syrians will be a good learning curve for his team.

“When you’ve got great energy and great characters, then those type of things don’t affect you,” he said.

“We’ve shown the other teams and we’ve shown ourselves that we can play 120 minutes well. I only see that as a positive.”

-AAP

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