Qantas Joeys make undefeated start

The Qantas Joeys have made an undefeated start to the AFF U16 Preparatory tournament in Laos.

The Qantas Joeys are currently participating in an AFF U16 Preparatory Tournament in the Laos capital Vientiane. On Saturday evening (AEST) the Qantas Joeys played their first match and overnight played the host nation in the second of this four match competition.

The first game was clearly billed as a battle of the heavyweights with the Qantas Joeys drawn to play Japan in the opening match of the tournament.

Played, in mid-30 degree heat and high humidity, the game was an entertaining and skilled affair with both teams creating plenty of opportunities.

Play was evenly poised until the 43rd minute when Miyoshi got in behind the Qantas Joeys defence with a deft flick over his head on the edge of the penalty box, finishing with a scorching shot into the top left corner.

Throughout the first half Qantas Joey Steve Kuzmanovski was a crowd favourite with his electric runs and array of manoeuvres on the ball, beating his opponent on many occasions but the Australians weren-t able to capitalise on their possession in the front half.

Having gone behind just before the break, the Qantas Joeys were clearly a more determined outfit after it, confidently playing out and creating real chances.

Captain Aaron Calver took charge in the key defensive post and, with a variety of slick passing and directed long balls, particularly to left winger Alex Gersbach, the Qantas Joeys looked to be gaining the ascendancy, the difference was the injection of Josh MacDonald up front early in the second half that paid real dividends, contesting well and getting in behind the Japanese defence on a number of occasions.

With only five minutes gone the Joeys capitalised on a set piece from the right when substitute centre back Jack Iredale scored the equaliser from a well weighted ball dispatched into the net at close range on his non preferred right foot, getting a goal on debut.

From that point it was all out attack by both sides with a number of chances going begging. At full time the 1-1 result was a fair reflection of where the teams stood against each other.

“The game provided a great tactical challenge for us with the Japanese midfield movement creating a few issues, particularly in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

“I was particularly pleased with how we were able to adapt to the changing game in the second half and in all, it was a very pleasing first up performance”

Monday night-s game against hosts Laos saw both teams in an arm wrestle for the first half with the Laotian team camped in their own half for the majority of the term, content to let the Qantas Joeys pass it amongst their backs, waiting to capitalise on any mistake.

After the break it was as if Qantas Joeys were fielding a fresh side by comparison. The midfield picked up the tempo, the ball was moved with purpose and the coach-s direction to take the play to their Lao opponents had obviously been heeded. Irrespective, Laos managed to find the net against the run of play to take a one goal lead but this only served to galvanise the Qantas Joeys.

The introduction of Kevin Ly into a tiring midfield and centre back Aaron Calver into the key forward post proved decisive with Kevin scoring the equaliser in the 62nd minute with his grounded shot in heavy traffic unsighted by the Lao ‘keeper.

With the game back in the balance Laos lifted their work rate but were starting to be overrun by the Joeys and this dominance turned into scoreboard advantage when Gersbach-s free from the right was contested in the box and fell to Josh MacDonald who executed a neat scissor kick to find the net from directly in front.

A jubilant Qantas Joeys outfit were deflated only a few minutes later when Laos broke through leaving Spinella no chance of stopping a cracking shot which saw Laos equalise in the 81st minute.

The Qantas Joeys continued to press and had a number of shots denied or miss the mark until Aaron Calver, having not made the most of an earlier opportunity, slot the winner from close range in the 88th minute. The final score, 3-2 to the Qantas Joeys.

“Before the game we made sure that the boys were aware that Laos would sit in their own half waiting for us to make a mistake” said Qantas Joeys Assistant Coach, Tony Vidmar.

“We made things tough for ourselves in the first half. Then at half time we reinforced the importance of patient build up play, increasing the ball speed and how player movement and rotation is important within the system to combat and penetrate their packed defence.”

Football Federation Australia would like to thank the AIS for their ongoing support for this training camp and tournament and the Qantas Joeys Football Program.

AUSTRALIA 1:1 JAPAN Australia: Thurtell (GK), Madden, Calver (C), Warland (Iredale 25-), Ly, Kuzmanovski, Rose (Ntoumenopoulos 70-), Hanna (MacDonald 45-), De Silva, Gersbach, Spinella (GK), Schmidt.

Substitutes not used: Pickert, Spinella (GK), Nicolis, Tshongo, Gonano, Stergiou

Goals: Iredale 50- Yellow cards Madden, Schmidt Red cards None

AUSTRALIA 3:2 LAOS Australia: Pickert, Rose (Ly 55-), De Silva (Kuzmanovski 45-), Gersbach, Spinella (GK), Nicolis, Tshongo, Iredale (C), Ntoumenopoulos, MacDonald, Stergiou (Calver 60-)

Substitutes not used: Thurtell (GK), Madden, Warland, Ly, Hanna, Gonano, Schmidt.

Goals: Ly 62-, MacDonald 72-, Calver 88- Yellow cards Rose Red cards None

Next Game Australia v Thailand, 7pm (AEST) Wednesday 6th June