National coach Graham Arnold believes coronavirus can prove the catalyst for an Olyroos medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
At this time last year Arnold could easily select an 18-man squad for the Olympics because his options were limited.
Now they have expanded greatly thanks to the influx of local young talent in the A-League this season.
The Games are six months away and yet to be confirmed as the pandemic rages internationally.
Restrictions over travel have had a significant impact on the Australian competition, forcing clubs to give young, home-grown talent more playing minutes.
Olyroos Tom Glover, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tom Aqualina and Ramy Najjarine are all regularly starting at their respective clubs, among several others.
Should the Games go ahead, it’s a huge win for Arnold.
“That’s why I keep saying I believe we’ll go to the Olympics and I believe the Olympics will happen and we’ll give it a shake for a medal,” Arnold said on Thursday.
“Covid is a disaster for a lot of people but for these kids it’s been a blessing if anything because they’re getting more time and they’re getting more minutes.
“This time last year we were still in Thailand trying to qualify for the Olympics and I struggled to put a squad together.
“Now the same people that were asking me those questions last year about the squad and how we would go in Thailand are now talking about how many great young kids we’ve got.
“If I had to pick an Olympic team for Tokyo 2020 it would have been an easy job. Now it’s going to be very difficult.
“There’s now players everywhere pushing for one of those 18 positions to go to Tokyo and they’re doing exceptionally well.”
Arnold’s comments came hours after 22-year-old Nicholas D’Agostino scored a double for Perth in their season opener against Adelaide.
Brisbane’s Dylan Wenzel-Halls also scored against Newcastle and has impressed Arnold with his work rate this season.
Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic has several hopefuls on his roster and said the Olympics should be a genuine incentive for serious players.
“Every player has their own motivations but we definitely have four or five in contention so you’d want to think most of them have that as a goal,” he told AAP.
“Some of them have written that down as their goal and objectives for the year, that’s their own intrinsic motivations and our team goals are a little bit different but we try and align with that as well.”