Central Coast Mariners star caps fine team move as Olyroos kick off WAFF U-23 Championship with win

Central Coast Mariners forward Alou Kuol scored for the Subway Olyroos, who made a winning start to their West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Under-23 Championship campaign by topping Iraq 2-1.

An extended 26-man squad for the fifth edition of the WAFF tournament in Saudi Arabia featured 16 players from the Isuzu UTE A-League, including goalscorer Kuol, as the Olyroos continue to prepare for next month’s AFC U23 Asian Cup.

The starting XI against Iraq included Melbourne City goalkeeper Patrick Beach, Newcastle Jets pair Lucas Mauragis and Mark Natta and Melbourne Victory forward Nishan Velupillay, while Sydney FC star Jake Girdwood-Reich, Western Sydney Wanderers forward Nicholas Milanovic and Macarthur FC’s Jake Hollman came off the bench.

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Alou Kuol – with brother Garang also in the squad, doubled Australia’s lead in the 15th minute having capped a fine team move after former Adelaide United midfielder Louis D’Arrigo opened the scoring five minutes earlier.

Iraq reduced the deficit four minutes into the second half, but the Subway Olyroos were not to be denied.

The Championship will feature Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates with the eight participating teams broken up into four groups, while opponents beyond the first match dependant on results.

Australia have been drawn alongside Iraq in Group D and will face either Egypt or the UAE before the schedule opens up ahead of the Subway Olyroos’ final fixture.