‘I could not have been more proud of them’ - Botic praises Joeys’ reaction against Ecuador

Goalscorer Noah Botic heaped praise on his Joeys teammates for their spirited response in the 2-1 FIFA U-17 World Cup loss against Ecuador.

Botic, who plays his club football for Hoffenheim in Germany, pounced at the death to hand the Joeys a 90th-minute lifeline in the opening game of the global showpiece event in Goiânia, Brazil.

The goal capped a sustained period of pressure as Australia fought back from going two goals behind in the opening nine minutes against the South Americans.

Botic’s strike set up a thrilling last few minutes as the Joeys piled forward but could not find a way through Ecuador’s rearguard to net an equaliser.

“It was an exciting end to the game,” Botic said. 

“I mean, the boys dug deep right to the final whistle.

REPORT: Joeys fight back but cannot recover against Ecuador in U-17 World Cup opener
AUSSIES ABROAD: Ryan keeps Brighton alive before late comeback against Everton


AUSSIES ABROAD: Mabil helps inspire another Midtjylland victory
RANKINGS: Caltex Socceroos' latest FIFA World Ranking revealed

“I could not have been more proud of them but it wasn’t our day.

“The next few days, we’ve just got to keep focusing and look forward to the next two games.

“They will be crucial so that’s our next big focus.”

The Joeys’ next focus will be a clash with Hungary on Wednesday, 30 October AEDT, so Trevor Morgan’s men will move straight on and prepare to face the Europeans.

Botic insists his teammates should not feel down after such a positive finish to a challenging opening encounter in Brazil.

AUSSIES ABROAD: Smith stars as Seattle return to MLS Conference Final
TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Joeys at the FIFA U-17 World Cup

“It feels tough but it’s nice to get a goal, especially at a World Cup,” he added. 

“It’s one of those games where you have just got to stay positive throughout the whole game and that’s what the boys did.

“Some of the boys feel down but I’ve got to hand it to them. 

“They did tremendous and I could not have been more proud of them.”

Head coach Trevor Morgan believes the Joeys’ performance improved as the match wore on but urged them to start at a higher tempo next time out.

“The first match was difficult for us,” Morgan said.

“Two deflections with goals against us, but a very strong finish and we’ll use that to go forward into the next match.

“We applied pressure, Ecuador played their match and did well in transition moments.

“The longer the game went, the better we managed that and had some chances late.

“For us, our football got better and I think the boys understand that they need to play at a higher tempo from the start and they should have a good performance.”

FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP: The Hyundai A-League pathway driving Joeys’ bid
'I PLAY FOR MY FAMILY': Years of sacrifice behind Dukuly's World Cup rise