AUSTRALIA'S Olympic dream ended overnight in yet another goalless display by the misfiring Olyroos as they lost 1-0 in the must-win clash against the UAE in Abu Dhabi.
For the fifth game in a row, the Olyroos again failed to fire in front of goal, and the result means Australia will miss the Olympic football tournament for the first time since 1984.
Coach Aurelio Vidmar's London 2012 squad was already weakened by the lack of European stars who were not released by the clubs as matches were held on non-FIFA dates.
It was weakened further by an FFA decree restricting Vidmar's selection to just three players from each A-League club for the final stage of the qualify group matches.
But after drawing 0-0 with UAE in Adelaide at the start of the month, the squad was given a lengthy camp in Dubai to prepare for the crucial games against Uzbekistan and then against UAE this morning.
The last game in the group is played next month in Gosford against Iraq - but that is now a dead rubber, with both sides now unable to qualify, after the Olyroos flopped and Iraq were deducted points for fielding an ineligible player.
Despite their lengthy training camp, the Olyroos played against the UAE like they had only met the night before, falling over each other in midfield, and on one occasion, actually injuring each other in defence with a reckless high tackle on a team-mate.
UAE scored their matchwinning goal in the first half from a short corner, slotting home an unlikely shot from an impossible angle which beat Olyroo keeper Mat Ryan at his near post.
But the goal failed to fire the Olyroos, and it was only after the late introduction of Kerem Bulut and Dimi Petratos in the dying stages of the match that the Olyroos looked even remotely dangerous.
It was too late to recover the doomed campaign though, and as tempers frayed near full-time, the final whistle brought the curtain down on a hugely disappointing qualification campaign for Australia.
More to follow...