Dylan Ruiz-Diaz heads to Europe this weekend for a Young Socceroos talent identification camp which will include friendly matches against U-19 sides from three top Eredivisie clubs.
2020 marks an important year for the Young Socceroos, with players involved in the program set to feature at the AFF U-19 Championship in Indonesia mid-year, followed by the AFC U-19 Championship in Uzbekistan in October.
The 2020 AFC U-19 Championship serves as the qualification process for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will next be held in Indonesia in mid-2021.
Australia’s twenty-two player squad will convene in Holland this weekend and will train at Sportpark Kleinhoven, home of Dutch amateur league club SC Hoevelaken.
Speaking before he travelled to Adelaide for Friday's clash with Adelaide United, Ruiz-Diaz said he was looking forward to going into camp with a different format to normal.
“Going into an Australian camp, it’s an honour every time,” he said.
“It’s a great experience to get overseas, especially going to Europe, and meeting new players and the new extended squad."
“This all is building up to the AFC Championships and nothing has been picked yet, so to meet the new players every time, it’s always a good experience.”
Gary van Egmond’s group – which includes players based both in Australia and abroad, as well as five players that featured for the Joeys at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 – will play FC Utrecht U-19 (18 February), AFC Ajax Amsterdam U-19 (22 February) and FC Twente U-19 (25 February) as part of the development tour.
“Going over there, it’s not something you do every day,” Ruiz-Diaz said.
“It’s a rare opportunity throughout the season to prove yourself, and it’s a big opportunity.”
“There’s new opposition, teams we haven’t faced and teams we don’t face week in and week out. It will be a good test and a good experience to go over there and show what I’ve got.”
In December 2019, a group of twenty-six players from across Australia gathered at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra for a similar camp targeted at pinpointing potential players for the Young Socceroos.
“This month’s camp will provide a great opportunity for our staff to assess a diverse group of young Australian footballers in an elite environment,” van Egmond said.
“We’re pleased to have been able to schedule matches against youth teams from three top Dutch clubs, and these games as well as the time we spend together will help us attain a clearer picture of some of the players who may form part of our squads for tournaments later this year.”