The Olyroos showed glimpses of their potential, yet plenty to work on in a defeat against the Republic of Ireland’s U-21’s in the first of their four friendlies against youth international opposition in Marbella.
The Irish youngsters, many of whom star in Europe’s most esteemed academies employed a physical style against the Australian contingent, with the Olyroos squad comprising Australians mainly plying their trade across various academies and first teams within Europe.
The Australians pressed immensely high with the wiley presence of Panos Armenakas penetrating the 18-yard-box early on, cutting inside and clattering the far post with Caleb Watts squandering the rebounded shot.
The direct play of the Irish midfield caused a stoic Australian defence to re-position whilst in possession, as the wing play of Southampton forward Will Ferry caused troubles in transition for Australian Serie B defender Gabriel Cleur.
Newly signed SC Paderborn striker John Iredale threaded an eye-watering through ball to HNK Gorcia makeshift winger Anthony Kalic, who struck it straight at keeper Brian Maher.
Minutes later, Irish midfielder Connor Noss placed an inch perfect pass to Derby County midfielder Louie Watson on the edge of the box, who flushed it high over the bar.
Obvious cracks within the Olyroos structure began emerging early within the second half as Connor Noss rolled the ball square where an attempted sliding clearance from Jay Rich-Baghuelou ended up finding the back of the net.
The pressure continued to pile on as substitute Ryan Johansson raced to Jordan Holmes, with the keeper narrowly avoiding a cataclysmic error for the Irish’s second.
The pressure was soon nullified as Newcastle forward Ramy Najjarine curled a wonderfully executed shot into the top left corner off of an Irish defensive error.
Yet, heartbreak ensued for the Olyroos as on a quick counter-attacking Irish opportunity, the ball was swung from Tyreik Wright into the midst of the 18-yard-box with Ross Tierney heading it home on the edge of full time to secure the Irish victory.
IMPROVEMENTS TO BE MADE
It quickly became apparent that the chemistry between the prospective Olyroos was sub-par.
The lack of communication can be rendered a fundamental reason as to why they weren’t able to cause more trouble for their opponents, with the defensive structure losing its shape at times.
In an attacking sense the Olyroos – like they have in the past – lacked the inch perfect ball from the midfield that creates goalscoring opportunities, with striker John Iredale starved for chances prior to his substitution.
OLYROOS HESITANT IN TRANSITION
The Olyroos had the majority of the attacking chances within the first and second halves.
An abundance of momentum swerved towards the Green and Gold within transition, the wingers often holding up the ball on the right flank, passing the ball just outside of the 18-yard-box.
GOLDEN BOYS CHANCE TO SHINE
Forgotten gem Panos Armenakas and unfortunate Manchester City winger Daniel Arzani both featured within the contest, displaying their attacking versatility on the flanks.
Both showed glimpses of what they will be able to provide on the world stage for the Olyroos should they both make the final squad.
However, the Olympics loom as an integral segment in the careers of the two aspirational wingers, with Arzani undergoing three unsuccessful loan moves while Armenakas has found form at Belgian club Zulte Waregem this campaign.
Youth International Friendly
Australia U-23 (Najjarine 74m) 1-2 Republic of Ireland U-21 (Rich-Baghuelou OG 57m, 26. Ross Tierny)
Australia U-23: 4-3-3
No. 12 Jordan Holmes, 3. Gabriel Cleur, 4. Jay Rich-Baghuelou, 7. Anthony Kalik (11. Daniel Arzani, 54m), 10. Panos Armenakas (15. Ramy Najjarine, 14. John Iredale (17. Marlee Francois 79m), 19. Ryan Teague, 22. Connor O’Toole, 24. Marc Tokich, 25. Caleb Watts (16. Nicholas Pennington 87m), 26. Kristian Popovic (21. Luka Prso)
Unused subs: 2. Doni Grdic, 5. Dylan Ryan, 1. Ashley Maynard-Brewer, 18. Jacob Chapman, 13. Con Ouzounidis, 20. Murray Miller
Manager: Gary Van Egmond
Yellow Cards: Panos Armenakas
Red Cards: None
Republic of Ireland U-21: 4-3-3
No. 1 Brian Maher, 2. Andy Lyons, 4. Mark McGuinness, 5. Oisin Mcentee, 6. Conor Coventry, 7. Gavin Kilkenny (20. Ryan Johansson 62m), 8. Conor Noss (14. Alex Gilbert 72m), 9. Jonathan Afolabi (19, Joshua Kayode 48m), 10. Louie Watson (18. Tyreik Wright 62m), 11. Will Ferry, 24. Luca Connell (26. Ross Tierney 90m)
Unused Subs: 3. Sean Roughan, 12. Colm Whelan, 13. Shane Flynn, 15. Lewis Richards, 16. Sam Blair, 17. Festy Ebosle, 21. A. Garcia Macnulty, 22. Conor Grant, 23. Dan Rose, 25. Bosun Lawal
Manager: Jim Crawford
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None