Football | Australian Olympic Committee

Australia and Olympic Football

Men (the Olyroos)

Australia's footballing men made their Olympic debut at Melbourne 1956 where, as hosts, they were granted automatic Olympic qualification. 

The Olympic debutants finished fifth at their home Games, with Graham McMillan and Frank Loughran Australia's first Olympic football goal scorers. 

The team did not compete again until Seoul 1988 where they finished seventh.

Throughout the 90's to early 00's, the Aussie men made five straight Olympic appearances, with their best result at Barcelona 1992 where they just missed out on bronze after going down to Ghana, 0-1.


Age limits for the men's Olympic football competition were introduced at Barcelona 1992 and remain today, with only three players over 23 years-old allowed to compete for each country. 

These unique Olympic rules saw many young players like Tim Cahill, John Aloisi and Mark Viduka make their mark as Olympians before going on to become Socceroos legends.

After Beijing 2008, the Olyroos missed out on qualifying for both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but a superb comeback 12 years in the making at the AFC-U23 Championship saw the young side secure their Olympic return ahead of Tokyo 2020.

With the top-3 countries at the AFC tournament earning a quota for Tokyo 2020, Australia’s 2-0 loss to Korea Republic in the semi-finals meant they had one final chance to qualify.

Nicholas D’Agostino slipped a goal past Uzbekistan in the third-place playoff to earn a 1-0 victory, securing the Olyroos’ return to the Olympic arena.

The final goal was D'Agostino's third of the tournament.


The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics led the IOC and FIFA to raise the age limit of men’s football competitors to 24, to allow those players that would have been eligible to compete in a Games held in 2020 to compete in 2021.

Women (the Matildas)

Women’s football was added to the Olympic Programme ahead of Atlanta 1996 and Australia's women's team, the Matildas, made their Olympic debut at Sydney 2000 led by captain, Alison Forman.

As hosts, the Matildas were guaranteed automatic Olympic qualification but two losses and one draw saw the home team finished seventh out of eight nations.

Most-capped Australian footballer, Cheryl Salisbury and FFA Hall of Fame's Sunni Hughes scored Australia's two goals of the tournament and Salisbury became the first Australian woman to score a football goal at an Olympic Games.


At Athens 2004 and after winning the Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament, the Matildas performance improved with a fifth place finish.

They beat hosts, Greece 1-0 before going on to draw with powerhouses, USA, 1-1, and setting themselves up in a quarterfinals clash.

It was the first time the Matildas had reached a quarterfinal in a major international tournament with goals scored by Heather Garriock, Joey Peters and Lisa De Vanna.

Although they had reached new heights, they were unable to qualify for Beijing 2008 and London 2012, but after going undefeated throughout the final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan in 2016, the Australian women's side returned to Olympic competition for the Rio 2016 Games.

Led by co-captains Lisa De Vanna, who also played at Athens 2004 and Clare Polkinghorne, the team started off modestly with a 2-0 loss to Canada who later won bronze, before drawing 2-2 with Germany, the eventual gold medal winners.


Samantha Kerr scored Australia's first goal of Rio 2016 against Germany, followed by Caitlin Foord.

The Matildas then triumphed 6-1 over Zimbabwe in their final group match to qualify for the knockout stages, with a brace from both De Vanna and Michelle Heyman and goals from Polkinghorne, Alanna Kennedy and Kyah Simon sending them to the quarterfinals against Brazil.

After regulation time saw the teams at a 0-0 stalemate, the Aussie women went down in a heartbreaking penalty shootout, losing 7-6.

Now, the Matildas have their sights set on Tokyo after qualifying for their fourth Olympic Games.


After defeating Chinese Taipei 7-0 and Thailand 6-0 in a dominant start to the Matildas Olympic qualification campaign, a 1-1 draw with China PR sent the Aussie women to the Olympic qualification play-offs against Vietnam, where a home and away series would decide which of the two nations would qualify for Tokyo 2020. 

A solid 5-0 home win followed by a final 2-1 away win over Vietnam secured their ticket to Tokyo.

Emily Van Egmond was the leading goal scorer of the tournament, finding the back of the net five times closely followed by captain Sam Kerr with four goals.

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