Joeys set for Turkey tournament after receiving UEFA invite

Australia’s preparations for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru have received a significant boost, with confirmation that a Joeys selection will travel to Antalya, Turkey next month to participate in a preparatory tournament to be hosted by UEFA.

The Joeys qualified for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup after making the semi-finals of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship held in Malaysia last September, and one of the first components of the squad’s preparations for Peru will be fixtures against Turkey, Tanzania, and Guinea in Antalya between March 4 and 8.

Australia is the only nation outside of UEFA and CAF to receive an invitation to the preparatory tournament. The tournament will also feature teams from Morocco, Cameroon, Uganda, Montenegro, Senegal, Angola, Nigeria, and Belarus.

FFA Chief Executive Officer, Mr David Gallop AM, said securing Australia’s participation in the tournament was the culmination of extensive discussions with UEFA.

“Our International Relations team has been working to establish strong relationships with confederations and associations around the world. These relationships in turn enable us to further our strategic objectives. In this case, it’s about building up the competitive opportunities for our youth national teams, so this is a major boost for our preparations for this year’s FIFA Under 17 World Cup,” Gallop said.

“We thank UEFA for the opportunity. Playing international matches against players from Turkey, Tanzania and Guinea is unique for Australian footballers of any age or gender and will provide a brilliant chance for our boys to benchmark themselves against players of similar ages from different confederations.”

Australia U17 National Team Coach, Trevor Morgan, who is currently in Europe scouting potential Joeys players, said he will use this opportunity to provide some new players with international experience.

“We are consistently monitoring our identified elite young players both in Australia and overseas, however we are also eager to unearth new talent for Australia’s national teams,” Morgan said.

“For the upcoming preparatory tournament in Turkey I will be selecting a squad primarily comprised of players that didn’t attend last year’s AFC U16 Championship in Malaysia, however this doesn’t mean that the players that performed well in Malaysia won’t be given further opportunities to impress and stake their claim for Peru.

“We are continually building connections with coaches and technical directors in Australia and abroad, and I’d like to thank all the people that have put forward potential players for the Joeys system,” he said.

UEFA’s Head of National Associations International Relations, Eva Pasquier, said: “This initiative is part of the UEFA ASSIST programme, which aims to share knowledge, best practices and offer assistance to UEFA’s sister confederations and their member associations.”

“In this context, the tournament in Antalya will provide opportunities for talented young players to gain experience playing in a competitive environment, while also learning about different cultures which will broaden their footballing education both on and off the pitch.”

Peru (Host Nation), Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Tajikistan, New Zealand and Solomon Islands have already qualified for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup, with additional entrants from CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, and UEFA to be determined over the coming months.

The 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup will be held between October 5 and 27, and FFA is currently exploring opportunities for the Joeys to participate in additional international tournaments on the path to Peru.