Qantas Joeys Progress to Quarter Finals

The Qantas Joeys will progress to the quarters of the AFC U-16 Championship after defeating Vietnam

The Qantas Joeys will progress to the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championship after defeating Vietnam 3-1 in dramatic circumstances last night in Tashkent.

The Qantas Joeys came back from a goal down courtesy of two goals from the penalty spot from Jesse Makarounas and a late goal from the captain, Connor Chapman. The circumstances surrounding Chapman-s goal causing a cascade of events that would see three Vietnamese players red-carded and over ten minutes of additional time played at the end of the ninety minutes.

After an uneventful first half, the drama for the Qantas Joeys started four minutes into the second half when a Vietnamese free-kick was flicked on by Van Nui which found Xuan Nam unmarked six yards from goal. The midfielder then took one touch before finishing past goal keeper Paul Izzo.

The goal sparked the Qantas Joeys into life and the young Australians then began to lift the tempo and put more pressure on their opposition

The equaliser came for the Qantas Joeys on the hour mark when Anthony Proia was fouled in the box by Son Hai. Jesse Makarounas- resulting shot from the penalty spot was saved by the Vietnam goal keeper Nguyen Son Hai, but the referee and his assistant determined that the goal keeper had moved off his line before the shot and ordered the penalty to be retaken. Makarounas made no mistake from his second attempt.

Things didn-t get any easier for the Qantas Joeys eight minutes later when midfielder Kwabena Boahene was red-carded for a high challenge. The decision didn-t faze the Australians and they continued to apply the pressure and look for a winner.

In the 90th minute Vietnamese midfielder Nguyen Son Hai received a red card, for a second bookable offence following a high tackle on Luke Remington.

From the resulting free kick, from out wide on left side, Yianni Perkatis, swung the ball into the 6 yard box to Jesse Makarounas who set up Connor Chapman. Chapman stabbed home his attempt from close range to give his team the lead.

Following the goal, the match descended into a farce, when the Vietnamese players staged a lengthy protest with the referee concerning the legitimacy of Chapman-s goal, which eventually resulted in the dismissal of the goal keeper Nguyen Son Hai for dissent.

Soon after the restart of the match, Vietnamese defender Ha Long also received a red card for a reckless high challenge on Jesse Makarounas in the box. Makarounas again stepped up to the penalty spot and converted his attempt to seal a dramatic 3-1 victory for the Qantas Joeys which puts them at the top of Group C.

After the match, Qantas Joeys Head Coach Jan Versleijen was pleased that his team showed discipline to come back from a goal down and with ten men for the last twenty minutes of the match to secure the win that has now put them into the quarter finals.

“We came up against an unexpectedly well organised Vietnamese team that made for a very difficult first half and we found it hard to break down their defence,” said Versleijen.

“Before we even got a chance in the second half to adapt they scored from a free kick.

“The game then really stepped up in pace after this point and we put more pressure on their defenders which resulted in the first penalty.

“The end of the game was very hectic with one red card to us and three red cards for Vietnam and fortunately we kept our heads cool and were able to get another two goals and secure a place in the quarter finals.

“Our final group match against Japan on Friday will decide if we stay at the top of the group.” concluded Versleijen.

In the other group C match Japan will also progress to the quarter-finals after defeating Timor Leste 1-0, whilst in Group D Iraq maintained their lead at the top of the group with a 3-0 win over Kuwait and China PR and the United Arab Emirates played out a 1-all draw .

The Qantas Joeys will play their final group match against Japan on Friday 29 October (kick-off 1.00pm local, 7:00pm AEDT). The quarter-finals will be played on Monday 1 November, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals which will be held on Thursday 4 November. The final will be played on Sunday 7 November (kick-off 2:00pm local, 8.00pm AEDT).

The top four teams (the semi-finalists) from the AFC U-16 Championship will qualify for the FIFA U17 World Cup 2011 which will be held Mexico from the 18 June - 10 July.