Australia Under 19s Qualify for Next Year's World Cup
Qantas Young Socceroos qualify for FIFA U-20 World Cup 2011 after extra-time win
The Qantas Young Socceroos have qualified for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup after defeating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 4-2 in a thrilling quarter final at the AFC U-19 Championship tonight in Zibo, China.
Kerem Bulut opened the scoring for the Qantas Socceroos, following a Marc Warren corner, in the 6th minute of the match before Ahmed Khalil equalised for the UAE from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute.
Mustafa Amini gave the Qantas Young Socceroos the lead again three minutes into the second half with a fantastic right footed-volley from the edge of the box that dipped in just under the crossbar. But Ahmed Khalil again equalised for the UAE with six minutes to go in regulation time to force the match into extra time.
Two minutes into the first period of extra time Mathew Leckie put the Qantas Young Socceroos ahead for the third time with a tap in at the far post from a Matthew Fletcher cross.
Fletcher then sealed the result twelve minutes later when he side-footed in a volley from close range after finding himself unmarked in the six yard box on the end of a cross from Tommy Oar on the left.
The Qantas Young Socceroos defended their two goal lead during the second period of extra time controlling possession and slowing down the play as both teams began to feel the effects of fatigue.
The UAE had a faint glimmer of hope late in the game after Dylan McGowan was sent off for his second bookable offence in the 115th minute after committing a foul on the edge of his own box. But from the resulting free kick, Qantas Young Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Birighitti made an important save to his near post.
After the match Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen was ecstatic with his team-s hard earned win and the achievement of their goal of making the semi finals of the tournament.
“It was a tremendous performance by all the players this evening.
“Every time the UAE challenged us we were able to then step up to the challenge.
“It was definitely a hard fought win and the players should be very satisfied by the result tonight as well as qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia next July.
“Yes, we achieved our goal of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but we are not satisfied. We play Saudi Arabia in the semi finals on Thursday and want to win this game to progress to the final on Sunday.
“We will be missing Mathew Leckie, Dylan McGowan and Ben Kantarovski due to suspensions for Thursday's match, but this will give other players an opportunity and again allow us to see what depth this squad has to offer.
“For the moment the players should be very proud of their performance as we look forward to the semi finals,” concluded Versleijen
In the other quarter finals the Korea Republic came back from two goals down to run out 3-2 victors over Japan, DPR Korea defeated China PR 2-0 and Saudi Arabia accounted for Uzbekistan 2-1.
The Qantas Young Socceroos will now meet Saudi Arabia and DPR Korea will face the Korea Republic in the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Championship which will be held on Thursday 14 October, with the Final to be played on Sunday 17 October.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 will be played from the 29 July - 20 August.