Subway Olyroos’ Head Coach, Tony Vidmar has named an extended 26-man squad for the fifth edition of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) U-23 Championship – Saudi Arabia 2024.

The Championship – played out of Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia from 18 to 26 March – will feature Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The Championship format sees the eight participating teams broken up into four groups, who will each play three matches throughout the window, with opponents beyond the first match dependent on results.

The Subway Olyroos have been drawn into Group D alongside Iraq and will then face either Egypt or UAE, before the match schedule opens up ahead of their final fixture.

It will be the last opportunity for the Subway Olyroos to assemble prior to Vidmar selecting his 23-man squad for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ in early-April.

The WAFF Championship squad is brimming with Isuzu UTE A-League talent including Victory’s own Ryan Teague and Nishan Velupiullay.

Patrick Yazbek (Viking FK) is part of a contingent of European-based players including Louis D’Arrigio (Lechia Gdansk), Jacob Italiano (Borussia Monchengladbach II), Garang Kuol (FC Volendam) and Adrian Segecic (FC Dordrecht) who will feature in Saudi Arabia.

Subway Olyroos’ Head Coach, Tony Vidmar said his side’s participation for the WAFF Championship was geared towards the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ starting in just over a month’s time (15 April – 3 May).

“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.”

In relation to the rationale for selections in March, Vidmar added that players who would not be available for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ were not considered during this window.

“Unfortunately, the Asian Cup falls outside of a designated FIFA Window, which presents challenges in players seeking releases from their respective clubs to join us in Qatar,” Vidmar added.

“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 tournament 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,” Vidmar concluded.

The Subway Olyroos are one of 16 teams who have qualified for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™, should they finish in the top three they will automatically qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics as the AFC representatives, while the fourth-best team will play an AFC-CAF play-off match for the final qualification spot. 


Australia U-23 v Iraq U-23
Thursday, 21 March 2024
Kick-off: 8.00pm AST / 4am AEDT (Friday, 22 March)
Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Australia U-23 v TBC
Saturday, 23 March 2024
Kick-off: TBC
Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Australia U-23 v TBC
Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Kick-off: TBC
Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium, Saudi Arabia