Australia through to FIFA U-20 World Cup
A stunning overhead kick, extra time goal from Queensland Roar’s Mitch Nichols has secured Australia’s passage to next years FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
A stunning overhead kick, extra time goal from Queensland Roar-s Mitch Nichols has secured Australia-s passage to next years FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. Nichols scored both Australia-s goals in a 2-1 win over DPR Korea in their quarter fin al clash of the AFC U-19 Championship being played in Saudi Arabia.
Australia will now play UAE next Wednesday morning (AEDT), for a place in the final of the tournament. UAE upset hosts Saudi Arabia to advance to the semi finals.
Nichols proved to be Australia-s hero with two magnificently taken goals, the first coming after just 11 minutes and the second with six minutes remaining of extra time. DPR Korea equalised soon after half time.
Nichols opener was another superb piece of finishing from the Roar youngster, capitalizing on good work by James Holland and Ryan McGowan on the right. Nichols created space for himself, before curling his shot past the DPR keeper.
Stung by the goal, DPR Korea came back strong and Andrew Redmayne had to be at his best on 18 minutes; blocking a shot from Pak Kwang-ryong.
On 29 minutes, McGowan denied DPR Korea an equaliser, when the dangerous Pak had positioned himself to score after a bullocking run in the box. But somehow McGowan managed to clear Pak-s effort off the line with his head.
The score that way till half time, but eight minutes after the break early pressure on Australia-s goal finally told from a goalmouth scramble. Two shots two shots were blocked on the line, but a third by Myong Cha-hyon was drilled home through a host bodies.
From there though it was Australia that dominated, as the Koreans tired.
Substitute Jason Naidovski thought he had won the match deep into stoppage time only to be denied by a fantastic reflex save from Ri Kang, knocking the ball against the post and out of play.
Australia stayed in the ascendancy throughout extra time as DPR Korea looked to hold out for penalties, but with just on six minutes remaining Nichols came good with his exquisite winner.
However, the breakthrough finally came when McGowan's long throw was flicked on by Naidovski and Nichols, with his back to goal, hit his overhead kick perfectly and giving the Korean keeper no chance.
DPR Korea almost leveled it again straight after when Kang Kuk-chol's powerfully struck free-kick hit the bar, but that was as close as they could come and Australia held on and advance to the semi finals and a place in Egypt.
The match was particularly satisfying for coach Jan Versleijen and having achieved the first goal of qualifying for next years World Cup, he is now looking forward to trying an win Australia-s first major tournament in Asia.
“This was like a final for us,” he said after the game. “We came here with the goal to qualify for the World Cup and we have achieved that.
“The players worked extremely hard and deserve to have qualified for Egypt next year. Now we have to set a new goal of trying to win the tournament and the next game versus UAE in the Semi Final will be very tough.
“Our players want to go to the final of this tournament. The strength of this team is their unity and this team likes to win and wants to win.
“How far this quality will bring us, we'll see against UAE,” he added.
Australia 2 (Mitch Nichols 11-/113-) DPR Korea 1
Australian line-up: Andrew Redmayne (gk), Luke DeVere, Nick Tsattalios, Mitch Nichols, Tahj Minniecon (Oliver Bozanic 80-), James Holland, Milos Lujic (Jason Naidovski 88-), Thomas Oar (Isaka Cernak 70-), Sam Munro, Ryan McGowan, Sebastian Ryall
Cautions: Holland (61-), Munro (66-)