Peter de Roo, Technical Director of FFA Centre of Excellence at the AIS, believes the current crop of Joeys can only get better as they prepare for the 2015 U-17 FIFA World Cup in Chile.
The Tony Vidmar-coached Joeys impressed in AFC U-16 qualifiers in Thailand last month, beating Japan on the way with some stunning goals and excellent possession play.
Despite the incredible humidity of Bangkok and playing every two days, the Aussies surprised many of Asia’s best.
De Roo says the goal was always to qualify for Chile but there was more to it than that.
“As technical staff it was also very important to achieve that without compromising on our vision and style of play.
“It was very good to see that even during the tournament we got better with a very good game in terms of performance against Korea DPR in the semi-final.
“Our performance at this tournament was definitely a reflection of the hard work that FFA, it’s former Technical Director Han Berger and his staff have put in over the last years as well as Aidan Brown (Program manager) and Jackson Kupke (Player Development Manager) and the medical staff in being very pro-active in difficult circumstances, like playing in very hot and humid conditions every two days.Goalkeeper coach Fernando Vaz Alves and assistant coach Ufuk Talay also played a big part".
Victory over Japan was particularly sweet with Jake Brimmer scoring two high class free kicks. The teenage Liverpool midfielder shone in a brilliant 4-2 win.
And in the quarter finals the Joeys came from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Cameron Joice and Daniel Maskin to ensure a semi final berth and a spot in the World Cup.
Though de Roo isn’t getting carried away with the feel-good factor surrounding our teenage stars of the future.
“It was very important to see that we still have a long way to go as well. That game meant for us topping the group which was important, at the same time I noticed that we; as technical staff and the players were actually disappointed in our performance in that particular game.
“For me personally this was a sign that as a group we are on the right track to bigger and better things; I think moving forward this will be one of the key moments in our journey.”
In preparation, the Joeys will play the Nike Invitational in California late next month. There they’ll play Brazil, England and the US.
De Roo hopes it’ll improve certain parts of our players’ approach.
“Technically we are getting better and better, but at times we are still naïve in our decision making and turn over the ball too easy.
“ In the past it was probably a combination of technique and decision making, but I think it is fair to say that the majority of the turnovers are related to game awareness now.
“We need to become more street smart in our decision making. With our boys now going into National Youth League this is going to be a great opportunity for us to work on these things.
“Ultimately qualifying for a World Cup should not be the be all and end all. In my opinion it doesn’t change our core job which is to prepare these boys for professional carriers and hopefully playing for the Socceroos in the future.
“On the other hand to achieve that; the more International Football the better and for the boys to come back to Canberra and before every single training realising that there will be a World Cup waiting at the end of their scholarships, how good is that?”