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Milicic finalises Australia U23 squad for China

Football West News

The Australian U23 Men’s Football Team Head Coach Ante Milicic has today confirmed his 23-player squad for next month’s 2018 AFC U23 Championship which will be held in Jiangsu Province, China.

Milicic’s squad features 15 players currently contracted to Hyundai A-League clubs, plus eight players pursuing their professional careers abroad.

To minimise impact on the Hyundai A-League, a maximum of three players per club have been selected by Milicic for next month’s tournament. This player selection cap enables the players selected to be exposed to a significant international competition and development opportunity, while easing the impact on each club’s league endeavours.

Milicic’s squad will gather in China in early January for a preparatory camp, which will include an international friendly against Thailand in Shanghai on January 6. The squad will then play its Group D matches against Syria (January 11), Vietnam (January 14), and Korea Republic (17 January) at the Kunshan Stadium in Jiangsu Province.

“This squad features a mix of European and (Hyundai) A-League based players who will have the opportunity to show their quality both individually and collectively,” said Milicic.

“This group will realise huge benefits in their development by playing against some of the best teams in their age in Asia.

“Playing in and adapting to Asia will present many challenges, but we know the players will improve for these experiences.

“I have been with the senior team for the last four years and I can see how difficult it is in Asia, but also how our senior team has responded to the challenges. Experiencing different playing styles, cultures, atmospheres and traveling overseas helps players develop.

“With a FIFA World Cup just six months away this is the ideal opportunity for these players to impress.

“In our short preparation leading into the tournament we will look to build our foundations and principles of play that we believe in as Australian footballers,” concluded Milicic.

A top two finish in Group D will be required to propel Australia U23 to the Quarter Finals of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship.

Australia’s results at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship will also impact the team’s seeding for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship, which will double as the qualification tournament for the 2020 Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

Australia U23 Squad – 2018 AFC U23 Championship (China)

Name Club, Country
Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA
Keanu BACCUS Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA
George BLACKWOOD Adelaide United, AUSTRALIA
Trent BUHAGIAR Central Coast Mariners, AUSTRALIA
Nicholas COWBURN Newcastle Jets, AUSTRALIA
Daniel DE SILVA Central Coast Mariners, AUSTRALIA
Thomas DENG Melbourne Victory, AUSTRALIA
Benjamin GARUCCIO Adelaide United, AUSTRALIA
Thomas GLOVER (Gk) Central Coast Mariners, AUSTRALIA
Paul IZZO (Gk) Adelaide United, AUSTRALIA
Deni JURIC HNK Hajduk Split, CROATIA
Bruce KAMAU Melbourne City FC, AUSTRALIA
Stefan MAUK Melbourne City FC, AUSTRALIA
Riley MCGREE Club Brugge, BELGIUM
Daniel NIZIC (Gk) Morecambe FC, ENGLAND
Milislav POPOVIC Eintracht Braunschweig II, GERMANY
Jaushua SOTIRIO Western Sydney Wanderers FC, AUSTRALIA
Aleksandar SUSNJAR FK Mlada Boleslav, CZECH REPUBLIC
Brandon WILSON Perth Glory, AUSTRALIA

2018 AFC U23 Championships (China) – Group D Match Schedule (Australia)

Match 1 – Australia v Syria
Thursday 11 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)

Match 2 – Vietnam v Australia
Sunday 14 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 4pm (local); 7pm (AEDT)

Match 3 – Korea Republic v Australia
Wednesday 17 January 2018
Kunshan Stadium, Kunshan
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local); 10.30pm (AEDT)