Olyroos: What we learnt from the Maurice Revello Tournament
The Olyroos have completed their first-ever Maurice Revello Tournament, facing off against some of the best teams and players of their respective age groups worldwide.
The tournament, formally known as the Toulon Tournament, has provided a platform for some of the most talented young footballers globally to play against each other. Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kaka, and nameless other greats have all played in the tournament throughout its history. It is a highly prestigious tournament that has hosted some of the world's best-ever footballers.
With the Olyroos securing a third-place finish in 2023, FPF's four key takeaways from their campaign are below.
A good tournament that could have been better
Calem Nieuwenhof battles for a header against Qatar in the group stage. (Twitter: @TournoiMRevello)
This tournament was undoubtedly a substantial one for the Olyroos.
Following a tough 0-0 draw and penalty shootout loss to Qatar's U23s, the Olyroos did very well to secure first place in their group with wins over the U21 Mediterranean Select Team and Mexico's U23s.
However, what followed was a disappointing loss to Panama's U23s, who went on to win the tournament. It was a tough loss for the Australians, with a red card and individual errors primarily costing them a place in the final.
Despite this setback, the Olyroos showed their resilience in the end, with a 2-0 victory over France's U21s in the third-place playoff. This performance was by far the Olyroos' most impressive. A third-place finish in their debut is undoubtedly a good achievement that should be applauded. However, there is a feeling coming away from the tournament that they could have achieved even more.
This side is full of promise
Hosine Bility (left), Alou Kuol (centre), and Garang Kuol (right) are some of the top talents Australia had on display at the tournament. (Twitter: @TournoiMRevello)
Australia's third-place finish may feel underwhelming when you consider the sheer amount of quality in this Olyroos side. Rotating the side quite heavily from game to game, head coach Tony Vidmar certainly had options across the park, with every player in the 24-man squad featuring at some stage.
Defensively, we saw Jordan Courtney-Perkins put in numerous solid displays with an imposing passing range. Joshua Rawlins made the tournament's Best XI. Captain Jacob Italiano showcased his versatility by operating at right-back and not as a winger. A-League Men champion and new Sunderland signing Nectarios Triantis featured only once, against Mexico, where he unsurprisingly impressed.
In midfield, Ryan Teague stood out with his composed performances, scoring a late winner against the Mediterraneans. His hard work also led to the Olyroos sealing goal against Mexico. Jake Hollman, Louis D'Arrigo, Calem Nieuwenhof, and Keegan Jelacic had some moments of class, with the midfield area becoming increasingly stacked with talent for Australia.
In the wide areas, Cameron Peupion, following his strong season with Brighton's U21s, provided quality moments by creating chances. Garang Kuol, although not playing as many minutes in 2022/23 as Australian fans would have hoped, impressed, particularly against the Mediterranean Select, where he assisted twice and won Player of the Match. That game was also memorable for Nishan Velupillay, who scored a brace in the first 21 minutes.
Noah Botic shined upfront, scoring twice across three starts, with a crucial goal against Mexico. He competed for minutes alongside Alou Kuol, who notably performed well in the third-place playoff, providing relentless pressing from the front.
This Olyroos side reflects the optimism surrounding the youth talent coming through Australia's ranks. With other highly touted eligible players, who weren't involved, such as Jordan Bos, Alessandro Circati, Alexander Robertson, Mohamed Toure, Nestory Irankunda, and potentially Cristian Volpato, the future is looking bright for Australia.
A recurring pattern with Australia's junior national teams
The Olyroos were unable to score against a deep-sitting Qatari side. (Twitter: @TournoiMRevello)
A seemingly common theme for Australia's junior sides recently is struggling against teams who 'don't want the ball'. When Australian sides have been forced to create against a team sitting deep with a defensive game plan, they have consistently failed to play through these teams and score.
This issue reappeared again with the Olyroos at this tournament, where in the two games Australia failed to win, they held the majority of possession (59% vs Qatar and 55% vs Panama).
This problem is primarily a systemic one Australia has faced with its youth development, and it will require greater emphasis on developing the technical side of young players coming through. However, in promising signs elsewhere, Australia's U18 side played Portugal, England, and Norway's U18s earlier this month, especially impressed with their build-up and interplay, causing problems against some of the best players in the age group.
The Olyroos did show their strengths playing out of possession, setting up in a 4-4-2 and pressing high. The best performances of the tournament came against Mexico and France, where they only had 44% and 45% possession in each game, respectively. This strength is shared among the Olyroos and Socceroos, who have used it to contend with top opposition.
READ MORE ON FPF
A-LEAGUE MEN: FPF's most improved Team of the Season
OPINION: It's not the cattle, it's the farm
Building towards a big 2023/24
Should they qualify for the U23 Asian Cup in Qatar, the Olyroos' performance will determine whether they qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. (PopSugar)
Participating in the Maurice Revello Tournament was excellent preparation and planning for the Olyroos heading into the rest of 2023 and 2024.
From September 6-12, the Olyroos will compete in the AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers in Group I alongside North Korea, Laos, and Tajikistan. Should they finish as group winners or one of the four best second-placed teams among all groups, Tony Vidmar's side will qualify for the U23 Asian Cup Qatar next year.
This competition will take place in early 2024 (dates are yet to be confirmed) and determines who will compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics from the AFC region. The top three teams from the tournament will automatically qualify, with the fourth-best team playing a play-off against a representative from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The coming months will be crucial for the Olyroos, and competing in the Maurice Revello Tournament was a significant first step, establishing bonds and connections amongst players who will be eligible and contending for a place at the Asian Cup and, potentially, the Olympics squad.
It is undoubtedly a tournament Football Australia should revisit, as it provides an excellent platform for Australia's finest talents to display their ability on a European stage to numerous scouts and clubs. It also helps the Olyroos build the desired team chemistry and experience, as this group of players strive to make the next step up to the Socceroos in the coming years.
Click here to find out which Olyroos made our A-League Men most improved Team of the Season!