Milicic calls for fast start to AFC U-19 Championship campaign

Ante Milicic has urged his Young Socceroos side not to waste a second at the AFC U-19 Championship as they prepare to meet Korea Republic on Friday night.

A tournament-opening victory for either nation in Indonesia could prove crucial to progressing from a tricky Group C that also includes Jordan and Vietnam.

Milicic is well aware of the danger each opponent poses and is eager for his young charges to be ready from the first whistle.

SQUAD: Ante Milicic's full 23-player roster
PREVIEW: Young Socceroos hunting for FIFA U-20 World Cup qualification

"In this tournament and such a strong group you don't have time to ease your way into the tournament," Milicic said.

"If you do, your chances of going further are very difficult.

"Match fitness has been a problem for us but, at the same time, that's why we went to Singapore to acclimatise. We got two games in there.

"We've had some time to work on our playing style and at the same time we can look at it another way, that perhaps the players will be fresher as well.

"We also see that as a positive for us."

Escaping the group would put the Young Socceroos within one knockout win of qualification for next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.

Ben Folami
Ben Folami in action for Ipswich Town.

Milicic, a striker in his playing days, has promising sharpshooters John Iredale and Ben Folami at his disposal among a handful of overseas-based talents, with the bulk of the 23-man roster drawn from the Hyundai A-League.

"We've put together a squad containing players from the Australian league and a few players based in Europe," he said.

"Obviously we've had the same issues I suspect Korea Republic have had where we couldn't get some players released, and a few injuries.

"We go into this tournament hoping to be competitive."