Morgan hails Australian spirit

Australia head coach Trevor Morgan has praised his players for their fighting spirit after the Joeys defeated Indonesia 3-2 at the National Stadium on Monday to secure a spot in the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 semi-finals and a ticket to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

Australia showed their resilience as they fought back from a goal down at half-time to overwhelm Indonesia in the second half and book a semi-final clash against Japan on Thursday.

Morgan revealed that his half-time talk was aimed at giving Australia confidence to play their style of football and push for the win.

“We showed them where they can be better. And before the first goal, we played well and it was about refocusing on trying to play our style of football and making decisions in some areas,” said Morgan.

“Obviously Indonesia seemed to be talented and have some amazing quality in transition and we were punished by that. But we refocused the boys, we told them the goal will come, and the win will come... and that happened.”

Australia had a bright start but couldn’t convert their chances and conceded in the 16th minute from Sutan Diego Armandoondriano’s stunning strike to trail 1-0 at half-time.

The two-time AFC U-16 Championship semi-finalists, however, showed character as they equalised through Daniel Walsh in the 50th minute and furthered their advantage with goals from Adam Leombruno (64th) and Noah Botic (73rd) before surviving a late Indonesian revival with Rendy Juliansyah scoring in the 89th minute, to grab the victory.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the group. We had a slow start to the tournament with a loss against Korea Republic. However since then, we have shown quality and resilience to secure wins over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Indonesia which has helped us achieve our first target of this Championship – a place at next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru.

“In a short period of time we have grown as a group, and we will now play Japan for a place in the final of the AFC U-16 Championship.

Indonesia v Australia (AFC U-16 Championship 2018 - Quarter-finals)

“Japan will be immensely tough opponents on Thursday, however we will enter the game with the belief that we can win the match and progress to the final.

“Qualification for next year’s World Cup in Peru will ensure more high-level international matches for this group of youngsters over the next 12 months, which will be critical to their development as footballers.

“While our focus must be on Thursday’s semi Final, we must also recognise that qualification for the World Cup is an incredible achievement for everyone involved with the team and enjoy the moment.”

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