‘Aussie spirit’ to spur Joeys on in Mexico
Despite being drawn in what Denmark Head Coach Thomas Frank has described as ‘the group of death’, the Qantas Joeys have something in their corner that has them confident in progression past the Group Stage of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup.
Despite being drawn in what Denmark Head Coach Thomas Frank has described as ‘the group of death-, the Qantas Joeys have something in their corner that has them confident in progression past the Group Stage of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup.
As the Qantas Joeys touched down in Mexico to put final preparations on their World Cup assault, which starts with Group Stage matches against Côte d'Ivoire, Brazil and Denmark, there is a real belief within the squad that a berth to the knockout phase is achievable.
Spending a day in transit, let alone just thinking about it, can be draining enough, but there is an air of excitement among the players as they settled into their pre-tournament base camp in Pachuca. While the task in front of them seems as great as the altitude in Mexico-s highlands, Victorian Nick Ansell and Brisbane born left back Corey Brown state the Joeys have focused on the ‘never give up- attitude that Australians are renowned for.
There is a lot to appreciate in this facet of Australian culture, which is about never rolling over and accepting defeat. The question is, are the Joeys capable of producing it? For the answer, one only needs to look back at the moment that saw Australia-s Under 17-s secure their ticket to Mexico 2011.
Staring at a 2-nil score line with less than 10 minutes to go in the Quarter Finals of the AFC Championship against the United Arab Emirates, and with a World Cup spot hinging on the result, the Joeys produced a remarkable comeback to level the scores at the end of regulation time, the equaliser coming in the final minute of stoppage time. They then scored in the first period of extra time and held on for a famous victory.
Brown ignited the comeback as he scored the Joeys- first goal, and he looks back now at that performance with great satisfaction, the 17 year old left back knowing as much as anyone what can happen through sheer persistence.
“Gary van Egmond (Joeys Assistant Coach) has been reinforcing to us the Australian mentality of never throwing in the towel,” Brown said.
“We have spoken about it, especially over the past week, about not giving up and pushing for the whole 90 minutes.”
Ansell concurs, the centre back that has been restricted to just one Joeys appearance due to injury, adding that the strength of this current squad is its ability to play as a team. Ansell believes it would be this ability to play as a unit that would determine whether the Jeoys can make it deep into the competition.
“Experience of playing in a World Cup is something you might only get to do once in your lifetime,” Ansell said.
“I think if we can stick to the game plan and focus on the things we know we can do well, we-ll give ourselves every chance of going through.”
Now, with less than a fortnight before the World Cup kicks off, this crop of Joeys are determined to prove again that they have that same fighting spirit. Their opening game of the competition is against Côte d'Ivoire in Guadalajara on June 20.