Oar closes in on 'childhood dream' of playing in UCL

Australia's World Cup winger Tommy Oar is one step away from realising his childhood dream of playing in the UEFA Champions League, an experience he said he would remember for the rest of his life.

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Tommy Oar in training for Australia Source: AAP

Oar, who plays for APOEL in Cyprus, played a key role in his club's 2-0 first-leg victory over Slavia Prague in the final qualifier for a place in the lucrative UCL.

Two early goals have put APOEL in the box seat and if the Cypriot champions manage to survive the return leg in the Czech Republic next week, Oar would join a band of elite Australians such as Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Mark Bosnich, Paul Okon, Tony Vidmar, Craig Moore, Scott Chipperfield and Tom Rogic to play in the world's most glamorous club competition.

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"For me personally, playing in the Champions League would be a childhood dream come true and something I will remember for the rest of my life," Oar said after playing for 51 minutes against Slavia.

"But we are not there yet so I'm not getting ahead of myself.

"My focus is now on completing the job next week.

"Two-nil is a very good lead but things can change very quickly in football and we know it will be very difficult in Prague.

"Slavia are a very physical and direct team and we will treat the return game as if the score is still 0-0. We will go to Prague with the aim of scoring an all-important away goal and win.

"In all of our matches so far we have had good starts and this week was no exception."

Oar was replaced six minutes into the second half of a physical contest as a tactical measure to make way for a defensive midfielder as Slavia pushed hard in the second half to get back in the tie.

Oar is currently out of the Socceroos' radar as the national team strives to reach the FIFA World Cup for the fourth successive time.

But he knows that showcasing his skills in the Champions League could help his bid to regain his national spot and realise his ambition of taking part in a second World Cup after Brazil 2014.

"Playing in the Champions League would certainly help my Socceroos cause for sure," he said.

"But it is not my main focus. To be honest my focus at the moment is first to reach the UCL's group stages and then do as well as I can there and also in the domestic league.

"I'm sure that if I concentrate about this the rest will take care of itself."

Oar moved to Cyprus two months ago after one and a half seasons with his first professional club Brisbane Roar and he has been used in several positions by APOEL.

"I played right midfield against Slavia but last week in the Super Cup I was used as as a central midfielder and I have also played left wing," he said.

"Only a few months ago I played left back for Brisbane so I really don't know which position I will end up in."

Oar said there is intense media pressure on APOEL to leave their mark on the European game.

"After five consecutive seasons of European football and a lot of success there is huge pressure on APOEL to perform again," Oar explained.

"Last year the team reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League and it's not too long ago that they made the same stage of the Champions League.

"We still have a lot of the players from then. So reaching the group stages of the Champions League would mean a lot to the club and its amazing supporters, who are among the most passionate I've ever seen.

"The atmosphere our fans generate is really unique and our ground is a daunting place to come to."


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4 min read
Published 16 August 2017 at 8:10pm
By Philip Micallef