Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chairman, Chris Nikou, and Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, today congratulated Australia’s U-23 men’s national football team for securing a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Overnight Australia defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, with Nicholas D’Agostino’s fine strike early in the second half separating the two teams on the scoreboard.
The win ensured that Australia finished third at the AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand – their highest ever finish – and sealed a place in the men’s football competition at Tokyo 2020, breaking a 12-year Olympic hiatus.
Nikou said FFA and the Australian football community was proud of the achievements of the squad and staff in Thailand, with the success adding another element to what is shaping as a huge 2020 for the game.
“Everyone involved with football in Australia ought to be immensely proud of the achievements of our under 23s this month,” Nikou said. “The players, coaches and staff represented the nation with distinction, securing three wins and two draws from their six matches to finish a very commendable third in the tournament.”
“The efforts produced and outcomes achieved by our players and staff in trying conditions with matches coming thick and fast means that Australia can once again look forward to watching the green and gold participate in the men’s football competition at the Olympics.”
“With the continuation of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers throughout 2020, Australia’s historic participation in the Copa America, forthcoming women’s Olympic qualifiers, and now qualification for men’s football in Tokyo, 2020 is shaping as an enormous year for our national teams with much to look forward to for everyone connected with the game,” he said.
New FFA CEO Johnson attended the match in Bangkok. Johnson said he was proud of the way Graham Arnold’s side showed resilience and courage against a determined Uzbekistan team.
“What impressed me most about this achievement was the manner in which the team played,” Johnson said. “In difficult conditions and against a very good Uzbekistan side, our team was resilient, courageous, and came together to achieve an historic result for football in Australia.”
“While my time in Thailand was brief, I enjoyed the opportunity to witness firsthand how much qualification meant to the players, coaches, and staff.”
“Over the coming days, weeks and months I look forward to the opportunity to speak with a range of the game’s key stakeholders, including our national team coaches, to consider ways that we can work collaboratively to ensure that these players, and those that will come after them, are provided with enhanced development opportunities in Australia. Our game’s key stakeholders must be aligned to ensure generations of talented players have the opportunity to excel individually and collectively,” he said.