Home Australia ‘Hate to be in his shoes’: Olyroos coach’s explanation for latest Irankunda snub

‘Hate to be in his shoes’: Olyroos coach’s explanation for latest Irankunda snub

0 comment
Nestory Irankunda celebrates a goal for Adelaide, smiling and looking over her shoulder.

Olyroos coach Tony Vidmar refuses to end Nestory Irankunda’s hopes of playing at the Paris Olympics after claiming he is putting the Adelaide wonderkid first by leaving him out of the Asian Cup squad Under-23.

Irankunda, 18, who will leave Adelaide to join German giants Bayern Munich at the end of this men’s A-League season, was not included in Vidmar’s squad announced on Thursday.

Australia can guarantee its place at the Paris Games by finishing in the top three at the Under-23 Asian Cup in Qatar, which runs from April 8 to May 3.

But despite his game-changing ability, the dynamic Irankunda has been overlooked.

Vidmar said he did not want to put any more pressure on the teenager, who is arguably the most exciting Australian talent in decades.

“With Nestory we have to be aware, I have met with him on a couple of occasions,” said Vidmar.

“What’s happened to him this season, I think he’s on a rollercoaster 24/7 – that’s what he is and we have to look at the bigger picture.

“We can’t afford to have a thousand of those players that you can throw against the wall and they break and you don’t use them.

“He’s been through so much this year that I’d hate to be in his shoes. He’s been pushed and shoved and everyone wants a piece of him.

“He just turned 18, it’s a big ask for him… the person is number one.

“I could be selfish and just bring him in for the sake of it, but we feel the bigger picture is the Socceroos, you want to talk about him for the next 15 years as a national team player.”

Vidmar said Irankunda would remain in the Olympics framework if he qualified.

“He has always been in consideration (for Paris) and on our list of players,” he said.

“He is someone who after the Olympic qualifiers will try to have that discussion again and he likes that contact.

“He’s been open with me about a lot of things, but I don’t want to divulge them because it’s a trust and a relationship I’m building with him.”

Irankunda’s absence follows another testing period for the Australian team’s depth.

While Melbourne City winger Marco Tilio, who scored at the Tokyo Games in Australia’s victory against Argentina, returns to the fold, there are several key players who have not been deemed available for the tournament.

Nestory Irankunda has been widely touted as the future of the Socceroos after playing for Adelaide United.(Getty Images: Mark Brake)

Parma defender Alessandro Circati, Hearts midfielder Calem Niuewenhof and newly internationalized Socceroo Patrick Yazbek of Norwegian club Viking have not been granted release from their clubs as the tournament falls outside international windows.

“All those players were eager and desperate to participate,” Vidmar said.

“We are very disappointed that the clubs have not released them.”

Australia will face Jordan, Indonesia and hosts Qatar in the group stage, while heavyweights Japan and South Korea will be their most likely opponents in the quarter-finals.


Goalkeepers: Patrick Beach, Cameron Cook, Steven Hall

Defenders: Jordan Courtney-Perkins, Jacob Farrell, Jake Girdwood-Reich, Jacob Italiano, Mark Natta, Alexandar Popovic, Callum Talbot

Midfielders: Louis D’Arrigo, Jake Hollman, Adrian Segecic, Ryan Teague, Jordi Valadon, Rhys Youlley

Forwards: Lachlan Brook, Alou Kuol, Garang Kuol, Nicolas Milanovic, Mohamed Touré, Nishan Velupillay.

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered every Friday.


You may also like