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ALM: Young Jets selected in Olyroos squad


The Newcastle Jets youth policy has been rewarded following the selection of Mark Natta and Lucas Mauragis in the latest Olyroos squad.

The duo will take the field at the fifth edition of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Under-23 Championship in Saudi Arabia between 18 and 26 March.

The tournament is the last opportunity for the national side to assemble before coach Tony Vidmar names his 23-man line-up for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 next month.

Of the 26 players chosen for Saudi Arabia, 16 hail from A-League Men’s (ALM) competition.

Lucas Mauragis will represent the Olyroos at the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) U-23 Championship – Saudi Arabia 2024. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

Joining Natta and Mauragis are Thomas Waddingham (Brisbane Roar), Jacob Farrell (Central Coast Mariners), Alou Kuol (Central Coast Mariners), Lachlan Brook (Western Sydney Wanderers), Nicolas Milanovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jake Girdwood-Reich (Sydney FC), Jordan Courtney-Perkins (Sydney FC), Corey Hollman (Sydney FC), Jake Hollman (Macarthur FC), Nishan Velupillay (Melbourne Victory), Ryan Teague (Melbourne Victory), Giuseppe Bovalina (Adelaide United), Patrick Beach (Melbourne City) and Cameron Cook (Perth Glory).

The championship will feature Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates with the eight participating teams broken up into four groups, while opponents beyond the first match are dependent on results.

Australia has drawn Iraq in Group D and faces either Egypt or the UAE before the schedule opens up ahead of the Olyroos’ final fixture.

“This window is an extremely important part of our preparation for the Asian Cup and, with the extra game than we’d usually have, we’re able to provide ample opportunity across the squad ahead of selecting our final 23,” Vidmar said.

“We’re facing quality opposition in similar conditions to what we’ll see in Qatar.

“So, in terms of acclimatising for the Asian Cup, it covers a lot of important bases.

“As a group we’ve set clear expectations about what we want to achieve over the next six months… and this is the first step in that journey.”

Vidmar admitted the tournament presented challenges in players seeking releases from their respective clubs to join them in Qatar.

“That’s because the Asian Cup falls outside of a designated FIFA window, unfortunately,” he said.

“It’s certainly disappointing not to have access to all those who are eligible for the Asian Cup.

“And, on a personal level, I feel for those players who won’t have the opportunity to experience the championship and reap the benefits in terms of their continued development.

“It was something we always knew would be a possibility, so there has been a lot of planning that has gone into our preparation over the last 12 months, built on the understanding of the circumstances we could face regarding Asian Cup selection.

“We’ve been able to create some great depth across the program, while maintaining continuity within the squad through a core group of key players.

“This situation now provides the opportunity for a couple of new faces to come in for this window and show how they can integrate within our team culture and style of play.”

Meanwhile, the Jets tackle Perth Glory at HBF Park on Saturday 9 March, from 9.45pm, desperately requiring a victory.

Match schedule

Olyroos v Iraq U-23

Thursday 21 March

Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Kick-off: 8pm AST/4am AEDT (Friday 22 March)

Olyroos v TBC

Saturday 23 March

Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Kick-off: TBC

Olyroos v TBC

Tuesday 26 March

Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Kick-off: TBC

  • The Newcastle Weekly is a media partner of the Newcastle Jets

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