A-League Olyroos: The strikeforce

They're the Aussie spearheads linking up with Graham Arnold's 22-player Olyroos squad eager to fill their boots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Five players who plied their trade in attacks around the A-League in 2020/21 are included in Arnold's squad looking to go deep into the Men's Football Tournament in Japan, kicking off later this month.

As the countdown to Tokyo 2020 continues, read on to see how each of the selected players fared throughout the 2020/21 A-League campaign.

READ: A-League Olyroos: The engine room
MORE: Which A-League clubs featured Olympic-bound talent in 2020/21

Dylan Pierias - Western United

A-League 2020/21 Season

  • Games: 26
  • Goals: 6
  • Assists: 1

Western United's Young Player of the Season joins Arnold's squad in Tokyo after operating up and down the right flank to great effect for his side throughout 2020/21.

Pierias got his award-winning season off to a flyer when he netted a brace in his third appearance of the campaign against Perth Glory. The speedster made his impact felt in a 30-minute cameo, coming off the bench to score twice in an incredible game which finished 5-4 in United's favour. 

GOAL: Pierias on fire against Perth

Three games later, Pierias found the back of the net once again, finishing off a searching through pass from Alessandro Diamanti in a 4-1 over Macarthur FC on his 21st birthday.

Diamanti went on to assist half of Pierias' six goals for the season - including the solitary strike in United's 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar in Matchweek 12 and a finish against the Bulls one game later.

His magnificent footwork and calm finish into the top-left corner off his left foot in trying conditions was the pick of Pierias' goals for the 2020/21 campaign, coming in the 2-1 loss to Macarthur.

GOAL: Pierias with a stunner against the Bulls

Pierias netted his sixth goal of the season in late April as United beat Newcastle Jets 2-0. It was the last win of the season for Peirias and his side as a deflating eight-game losing streak saw the Green and Black limp to the finish line. 

But through the ups and downs of a turbulent A-League season, Pierias shone as a dangerous asset down the right flank, set free time after time by inviting balls played down the right flank. It's the kind of penetrating attacking play which could see Pierias play a pivotal role for Arnold's men in Tokyo. 

Mitchell Duke - Western Sydney Wanderers

A-League 2020/21 Season

  • Games: 17
  • Goals: 6
  • Assists: 2

Mitchell Duke brings experience and leadership to the Olympic squad as an overage selection in Graham Arnold's camp. 

Signed on loan by Western Sydney from Saudi Professional League side Al-Taawoun, the 'Duke of Parramatta' put six goals and two assists on the board from 17 appearances for his hometown club throughout 2020/21. 

Announced as a loanee signing at the start of February, Duke played his first game back in the Red and Black in a 2-2 draw against Wellington Phoenix later that month before getting off the mark in his second game of the season, scoring a late consolation from close range in a 3-2 loss to Adelaide United. 

Duke did the most of his damage in mid-March, scoring three goals in two games including a stunning chest and volley against the Phoenix which earned the Wanderers striker Goal of Matchweek 12 honours. He backed up that performance with a two-goal showing in a 3-0 win over Perth Glory as his side got on a mid-season roll. 

Goal of the Week: Mitch Duke | A-League

Duke wasn't to score again until Matchweek 18, when he found his fifth of the season in a simply ridiculous game: a 5-4 Wanderers loss to Melbourne Victory. Trailing 5-1 with under 20 minutes to play, the Wanderers struck through Graham Dorrans, Duke and Nicolai Müller to close in at 5-4 before the final whistle stopped the chasing team short of an unbelievable comeback.

Western Sydney's six-game winless run came to an end in Matchweek 19 when Duke scored a customary Sydney Derby goal to help the Red and Black triumph 3-2 over Sydney FC.

It was a third goal in four Sydney Derby appearances for Duke, and his sixth and final goal of the season. As Duke's loan spell at the Wanderers came to an end, he departed for Socceroos duty where he fired a brace in Australia's 5-1 World Cup qualifying win against Chinese Taipei in June. Now, Arnold hopes Duke can carry his leadership, experience and goalscoring touch into the U-23 camp as he looks to make his mark as an Olympian in Tokyo.

GOAL: Duke nets third in four against Sydney FC

Nicholas D'Agostino - Perth Glory

A-League 2020/21 Season

  • Games: 16
  • Goals: 5
  • Assists: 1

Nicholas D'Agostino's off-season departure from Perth Glory came after a 2020/21 campaign in which he burst out of the blocks to impress early doors. 

Perth's opening two games of the season produced 17 goals. The first, a 5-3 win over Adelaide United, saw D'Agostino net a brace in a sign of his eagerness to make his mark in the new campaign. The Olyroos forward scored Perth's second and fourth goals of the night; the first came off a fortuitous Reds deflection, before he found the back of the net once more with a headed finish in the second half.

GOAL: D'Agostino with the brace against Adelaide

One game later, D'Agostino was at it again - this time in the 5-4 loss to Western United in which fellow Olyroo Pierias starred. 

The fixture came just three days after Perth sunk the Reds, and D'Agostino scored the sixth goal of the day this time to level the score at 3-3. The impending Olympian soared high at the back post to connect with a Neil Kilkenny free-kick to bury a header past Filip Kurto's near post.

D'Agostino's fourth and fifth goals of the season came against Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners respectively. His left-footed finish in wet Gosford conditions on March 14 was D'Agostino's last of the season as Glory boss Richard Garcia handed his young forward little more than bench cameos for the remainder of the campaign.

GOAL" D'Agostino scores in the Gosford wet

D'Agostino is, of course, the player who booked Australia's spot at Tokyo with the decisive finish in a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in the third-place playoff at the AFC U-23 Championship in January, 2020. The 23-year-old will look to capitalise on his qualification heroics by playing a key role in Australia's attack at the upcoming Olympic games.

Marco Tilio - Melbourne City

A-League 2020/21 Season

  • Games: 22
  • Goals: 2
  • Assists: 5

Teenage City attacker Marco Tilio comes into Graham Arnold's squad in place of Ramy Najjarine as one of four 'Train On' players currently part of the 22-man squad heading to Tokyo.

The 19-year-old came to the fore late in City's 2020/21 campaign, helping fill the void left by Jamie Maclaren to see City lift the Premiership/Championship double. 

Tilio had to bide his time in his first season at City, receiving just 206 minutes of playing time throughout his first 12 games under Patrick Kisnorbo. But in early April Tilio began to force his way into Kisnorbo's thinking, scoring a late winner off the bench in a 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix before notching two assists in a 27-minute cameo in his side's 7-0 mauling of Melbourne Victory.

GOAL: Tilio wins it for City against Wellington

After Maclaren's departure for Socceroos duty, Kisnorbo placed his trust in both Tilio and fellow City youngster Stefan Colakovski to start producing the goods for the senior side.

And in a Semi Final clash with Macarthur the pair repaid the faith, scoring one goal apiece to see City overcome Macarthur FC 2-0 and progress to the Grand Final. 

GOALS: Colakovski and Tilio combine twice in a minute

Tilio proceeded to play a key role in his side's 3-1 Grand Final triumph. He showed confidence of an emerging young player with no fear of the occasion, getting the home fans into the game with his early attacking efforts.

He didn't score or assist on that occasion at AAMI Park, but Tilio's impressive Grand Final showing will grant Arnold confidence in the rising star's ability to make his mark on the grand stage the Olympic Games will provide to his 22 players in Tokyo.

Lachlan Wales - Western United

A-League 2020/21 Season

  • Games: 24
  • Goals: 4
  • Assists: 3

Lachlan Wales is another of Arnold's 'Train On' players in the 22-player squad and Western United's second young Australian forward bound for Tokyo.

Wales produced four goals and three assists in his first campaign with the Green and Black in 2020/21. Joining United from Melbourne City, Wales took ten games to get off the mark in his new colours before scoring in consecutive games in Matchweek 15 against Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets. 

Wales starred in United's 2-1 win over his former side - a result which put an end to City's club-record winning streak of six games. Wales notched a goal and assist in the 2-1 win, before scoring 36 seconds into his side's next game against Newcastle Jets. Wales' strike was enough for United to outlast the Jets and notch a 1-0 win, making Matchweek 15 a memorable one for Wales who also featured in the A-League Team of the Week.

GOAL: Wales scores against his former side

Wales scored twice more throughout the season to take his tally to four for 2020/21.

His third earned his team a point in a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix before the 23-year-old scored in fine fashion against Brisbane Roar in Matchweek 19, winning the ball near the halfway line before darting forward to get on the end of a Diamanti through pass to finish tidily. 

GOAL: Wales scores fourth of the season against Roar