Olyroos head to Beijing

The Qantas Under 23s arrive in Beijing today and officially take up the title of the Men's Football Section of the Australian Olympic Team (affectionately known as the 'Olyroos') in the countdown to the start of the XXIX Olympiad.

The Qantas Under 23s arrive in Beijing today and officially take up the title of the Men's Football Section of the Australian Olympic Team (affectionately known as the 'Olyroos') in the countdown to the start of the XXIX Olympiad.

Last night they were defeated in their final training match prior to the Games against Korea, 1-0 in front of a crowd of 20,533 on a balmy Seoul evening.

A well taken shot from Korean striker Young-Rok Shin in the 24th minute was all that separated the two teams.

Qantas Under 23s Head Coach Graham Arnold chose to rest two of the over age players, Jade North and Archie Thompson, to ensure that they did not get injured prior to the opening match of the Olympic Games when Australia meets Serbia in Shanghai next Thursday.

The third over age player, David Carney, started his first match of the campaign at left midfield and Nikita Rukavytsya partnered Mark Bridge up front. Adrian Leijer joined Matthew Spiranovic in the centre of defence and Ruben Zadkovich moved to right back.

The Qantas Under 23s came close to scoring in the opening minute of the match when Nikolai Topor-Stanley played a through ball to Mark Bridge. Bridge then crossed to Nikita Rukavytsya whose resulting shot was well saved by You-Gual Song in the Korea Republic goal.

Both teams traded opportunities in the opening exchanges and Korea came close in the 20th minute after some fine passing play between Chung-Yong Lee and Chu-Young Park inside the box. Lee-s final shot causing problems for Adam Federici in the Qantas Under 23s goal who was just able to push the ball wide for a corner.

Korea was rewarded for their efforts in the 24th minute after the Qantas Under 23s turned over possession cheaply in their defensive half. Young-Rok Shin found himself with the ball inside the box and was able to place his right-footed shot inside the far post past a diving Adam Federici.

Ruben Zadkovich came close to equalising for the Qantas Under 23s from the restart following a break down the right. Zadkovich-s powerful shot to the near post was well parried out by the Korean goal keeper You-Gual Song.

Korea continued to apply pressure to the Qantas Under 23s defence and at times pierced through. Sung-Yueng Ki had a great opportunity to extend his team-s lead in the 37th minute but his shot narrowly went over the cross-bar.

The Qantas Under 23s had their best chance to equalise a minute later when Mark Bridge played David Carney in down the left sideline. Carney-s cross found an unmarked, in front of goal Nikita Rukavytsya, but unfortunately the striker was unable to get his body in position to effect a shot and the home team kept the lead into the break.

Both teams made changes at half time with Neil Kilkenny coming on for Mark Milligan, whilst Korea switched goalkeeper Song You-Gual for Sung-Ryong Jung and defender Kun-Hoan Kim was replaced by Min-Soo Kang.

The second stanza saw the Qantas Under 23s take the game to their hosts and had the better of the play in the early stages of the half.

Close to the hour Sung-Yueng Ki had a break away opportunity for Korea, but Adam Federici had his measure in the one-on-one situation touching the midfielders shot over the bar. From the resulting corner Korean defender Dong-Jin Kim got a free header in the box, but could not find the target to add to his team-s lead.

Nikita Rukavytsya was unlucky not to get on the score sheet in the 68th minute after Nikolai Topor-Stanley set him up in the 6 yard box. Rukavytsya beat substitute goal keeper Sung-Ryong Jung with a well struck shot only to see his attempt ricochet off the post and out for a goal-kick.

The Qantas Under 23s continued to fight for an equaliser late in the game, pushing players forward and creating chances. Substitutes James Troisi and Matt Simon launching several stinging shots which were well saved by Jung in the Korean goal.

As regulation time was running out, Korea had a final opportunity to double their lead when Sung-Yeung Ki broke from half way. Ki beat Adam Federici in a one-on-one situation only to see his shot sensationally cleared off the line by Ruben Zadkovich.

Graham Arnold was philosophical about his team-s performance.

“Goals determine the outcome of games. We didn-t put away our chances tonight and we also got punished for turning over possession.

“Some of our players now realise the difference in tempo between the A-League and international level football. At this level you can-t afford to make errors, not finish your opportunities and still expect to get results.

“The positives to come out of tonight, and after all the games we have played in Asia, are that we have acclimatised well, our fitness levels are higher than they have ever been and all our players are injury-free leading into the Olympic Games. In fact tonight we easily matched the Koreans in terms of fitness, especially late in the match.

“We have a week until our first game against Serbia in Shanghai and now we can purely focus on fine tuning our tactics for that match,” concluded Arnold.

The Qantas Under 23s be part of the Athletes Village in Beijing for two days before heading to Shanghai on Sunday to prepare for their opening match of the 2008 Olympic Games against Serbia at Shanghai Stadium on Thursday 7 August (Kick-off 7:00pm AEST).

Match Details

Korea Republic Under 23s 1 (Young-Rok Shin 24-) Qantas Under 23s 0

Thursday 31 July 2008 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, Korea Republic

Qantas Under 23s line-up: 1.Adam Federici (gk), 3.Adrian Leijer, 4.Stuart Musialik, 5.Mark Milligan (C)( 27.Neil Kilkenny 46-), 6.Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 7.Kristian Sarkies (17.Billy Celeski 28-), 8.Mark Bridge (19.Matt Simon 77-), 12.Matthew Spiranovic,14.Nikita Rukavytsya, 15.Ruben Zadkovich, 23.David Carney (11.James Troisi 65-). Subs Not Used: 18.Tando Velaphi (gk), 21.James Holland, 20.Nigel Boogaard, 22.Leigh Broxham.

Yellow Cards: Milligan (42-), Carney (54-)

Referee: Keni Ogiya (Japan) Assistant Referees: Takahashi Yoshihisa (Japan) & Okano Takahiro (Japan) Fourth Official: Kim Eui Soo (Korea Republic)

Crowd: 20,533