Irankunda omission to form part of FA’s Olyroos review

George Clarke |

The omission of Adelaide United forward Nestory Irankunda came back to bite the Olyroos.
The omission of Adelaide United forward Nestory Irankunda came back to bite the Olyroos.

Nestory Irankunda’s non-selection and Australia’s failure to score a single goal will be placed under the microscope after the Olyroos’ Olympic qualification efforts ended in disaster.

Football Australia will probe the side’s failure to progress beyond the group stage of the U23 Asian Cup in Qatar, after their campaign came to an end with a 0-0 draw against the hosts on Monday morning (AEST).

“As is normal process following any major tournament, Football Australia will undertake an extensive review of the entire campaign, not just the past fortnight, where the outcome of this will shape the program moving forward into the next qualifying cycle,” FA said in a statement. 

The omission of Adelaide United’s 18-year-old Irankunda is likely to be a key pillar of the review after the Bayern Munich-bound wunderkind was left out of the squad based on concerns over his perceived maturity. 

While Irankunda sat at home, Australia failed to score a single goal through their three group games despite dominating possession.

Nestory Irankunda in action for Adelaide against Sydney FC.
Irankunda’s form with Adelaide United has earned him a move to German giants Bayern Munich. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Tony Vidmar’s side needed results to go their way in the final round of fixtures after opening their tournament with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Jordan and a 1-0 loss to Indonesia.

After Monday’s group-stage exit, FA will be left wondering what might have been had Vidmar been able to call up his strongest squad.

Alessandro Circati, Nicholas Bilokapic, Calem Nieuwenhof, Cameron Peupion, Nectar Triantis and Patrick Yazbek – all in the frame for a call-up – were withdrawn by their Europe-based clubs at the last minute.

The tournament does not fall inside one of global governing body FIFA’s international windows, meaning overseas clubs were not compelled to release players.

Of the small number of Europe-based players available to Vidmar, few had seen consistent game time in the preceding four months.

Tony Vidmar coaching the Olyroos at the Asian U23 Cup.
Tony Vidmar coaching at the U23 Asian Cup, from which Australia have failed to reach the Olympics. (HANDOUT/AFC Media)

In attack, Mohamed Toure of Ligue 2 side Paris FC and Garang Kuol – on loan at Dutch top-flight strugglers Volendam – had each played less than 90 minutes of first-team football since the start of 2024. 

Adding to Vidmar’s woes in the final third, Australia-based attackers including Noah Botic, Patrick Wood and Marco Tilio were sidelined with injury. 

Barring the most recent Olympics, when Japan received automatic qualification as hosts, Australia’s male side has not qualified for the Games since 2008.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster wrote on social media that the failure to qualify was a “great shame” and said the results indicated a need to dig deeper into Australia’s failures at major tournaments. 

“Every time Australia competes internationally, the findings should be distributed down throughout the entire grassroots,” Foster said.

“So everyone understands where we are falling short, what needs improvement and the types of player qualities we are in need of to increase our international competitiveness.”


GAME ONE: Drew 0-0 v Jordan; 71 per cent possession, shots 13, shots on target 2, corners 4

GAME TWO: Lost 1-0 v Indonesia; 64 per cent possession, shots 21, shots on target 4, corners 9

GAME THREE: Drawn 0-0 v Qatar; 75 per cent possession, shots 20, shots on target 7, corners 20