Four players with either Olympic experience, a senior All Whites cap or both have been included in Neil Emblens 20-man New Zealand U-23 squad aiming to secure an Olympics berth via the Oceania qualifiers beginning in Taupo on Friday. Current All Whites Jake Gleeson and Marco Rojas, who have been released by Portland Timbers and Melbourne Victory respectively for the March 16-25 event, are the biggest coups for Emblens squad with Rojas joining after his sides home match against Wellington Phoenix on Friday night missing New Zealands opener against Papua New Guinea the same day. Emblen has also been able to include two players who competed in New Zealands Olympic campaign four years ago as teenagers. Wales based professional Greg Draper has scored 20 goals this season for The New Saints and made two appearances for the Oly Whites off the bench in China before receiving his sole All Whites cap later that year. Auckland City fullback Ian Hogg has just returned from a trial in Europe and while he is yet to be capped at senior level he still adds valuable experience as one of only three members of the 2008 squad the others were Simon Elliott and goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley to play every minute of New Zealands Olympic debut. Its a great boost to have all four of these guys available as it looked as those we might not have any of them for the qualifiers, said Emblen. With their experience of professional football, Olympic Games or senior international football we expect them to be leaders on and off the field in what will be a testing tournament. While the likes of Chris Wood, Tommy Smith, Kosta Barbarouses could be added to the mix if New Zealand qualify for the Olympics, Neil Emblen said the core of local players were just as important and backed them to get the first part of the job done. "They really have double the motivation. Not only are the boys trying to get the country to the Olympics, they are playing for places knowing players are likely to be coming in if the team in successful in getting to the games." Wellington Phoenixs Cameron Lindsay, 19, is the fourth professional named in the side while the majority of the squad are supplied by ASB Premiership sides including five players from Team Wellington, three from Auckland City, two each from Waitakere United and Waikato FC and one from Otago United. New Zealand face Papua New Guinea and Tonga in Group B, with the top two progressing to crossover semi finals against the top two teams from Group A which features Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and American Samoa. The final on March 24 decides Oceanias sole berth in London. The mens Olympic football tournament is a 16 team event with teams able to add three over-age players to an otherwise under 23 squad. Meanwhile, the Football Ferns are two just games away from qualifying for the womens football tournament in London and will meet Papua New Guinea home and away on March 31 and April 4 for Oceanias spot in the 12 team event. New Zealand U-23 Squad for OFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament Owen Delany Park, Taupo March 16-24, 2012 Goalkeepers Jake GLEESON (Portland Timbers, USA) Michael O'KEEFE (Fairfield University, USA) Defenders Michael EAGAR (Team Wellington) Anthony HOBBS (Florida International University, USA) Ian HOGG (Auckland City) James MUSA (Team Wellington) Tim MYERS (Waitakere United) Tristan PRATTLEY (Otago United) Adam THOMAS (Waikato FC) Midfielders Alex FENERIDIS (Auckland City) Jason HICKS (Waikato FC) Cameron LINDSAY (Wellington Phoenix) Adam McGEORGE (Auckland City) Marco ROJAS (Melbourne Victory, AUS) Daniel SARIC (Unattached) Forwards Greg DRAPER (The New Saints, WAL) Louis FENTON (Team Wellington) Dakota LUCAS (Team Wellington) Ethan GALBRAITH (Team Wellington) Sean LOVEMORE (Waitakere United) Staff Head coach: Neil EMBLEN Assistant coach: Chris ZOROCICH Technical advisor: Raul BLANCO GK Coach: Mark OATES Manager: Brian TURNER Doctor: Mark FULCHER Physio: Roland JEFFERY Masseur: Tahwai WHITEWOOD Gear manager: Seamus MARTEN OFC Mens Olympic Qualifier 2012 16-24 March 2012 Owen Delany Park, Taupo, New Zealand Winner will represent OFC at the Olympic Men's Football Tournament in London from 26 July 11 August 2012 Group A: American Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu Group B: New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga Match Schedule: Friday 16 March 12pm Solomon Islands vs. Fiji 2.30pm Vanuatu vs. American Samoa 5pm New Zealand vs. Papua New Guinea Tonga bye Sunday 18 March 12pm Papua New Guinea vs. Tonga 2.30pm American Samoa vs. Fiji 5pm Solomon Islands vs. Vanuatu New Zealand bye Tuesday 20 March 12pm American Samoa vs. Solomon Islands 2.30pm Tonga vs. New Zealand 5pm Fiji vs. Vanuatu Papua New Guinea bye Thursday 22 March 1pm Group A Winner vs. Group B Runner-up 4pm Group B Winner vs. Group A Runner-up Saturday 24 March 1pm Playoff for third 4pm Final
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