Qantas Joeys squad named for AFC U-16 Championship

Qantas Joeys head coach Alistair Edwards has named his 23-player squad that will compete at the AFC U-16 Championship 2012, which will be held in Tehran, Iran from 21 September to 6 October.

Qantas Joeys head coach Alistair Edwards has named his 23-player squad that will compete at the AFC U-16 Championship 2012, which will be held in Tehran, Iran from 21 September to 6 October.

Of the Qantas Joeys Squad selected, 11 players are members of the Australian Institute of Sport Football program with the remainder of the squad drawn from the State/Member Federation Institute programs and State League clubs with three players currently based overseas in England.

After a gruelling training and selection process, Edwards believes that the squad is well prepared for the AFC U-16 Championship and the challenge of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

"Tony Vidmar (Qantas Joeys Assistant Coach & Head Coach of AIS Football Program) and I have been very impressed by the quality of players within this age group and the selection process to finalise the 23 player squad was extremely difficult, we have included two overseas based players to go with the 21 locally based ”, Edwards said.

"We have had regular camps at the AIS in Canberra alongside the very valuable international games from our overseas tours, so we go into this tournament with a similar preparation program to that of the countries we will be competing against.

“The support we have received from FFA and the AIS has been brilliant and I couldn-t be happier with our preparation, the way the boys are gelling as a group both on and off the park has been great to witness.

“During the last few months the focus has remained on identifying and nurturing the players that best suit our style of play and I-m pleased to see that our young Australian footballers have adapted well.

"Tony and I have been mindful of the Relative Age Effect and this squad is reflective of this.

"Some really promising younger players have caught our eye and as such, in line with the national long term player development philosophy, even though most nations will choosing 1996-born players only, there are eight 1997-born players included in this Qantas Joeys squad.

“We have had a 12 game international program leading up to Iran and the experience gained in Laos, Saudi Arabia and Bolivia has provided an excellent platform for the players to develop, this tournament in Iran is another opportunity for the players and coaching staff to gain the much needed international exposure.

"There are 12 quality teams competing at this AFC tournament who all have the desire and intention of being one of the four teams that progress to the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

"There is a huge development focus and subsequent investment in youth development throughout Asia and there will be some excellent football on show at this tournament.

"Our boys are getting better and better the more international games we play and our goal has always been to play as many games as possible together, and that means beyond this tournament as well.

"There is a lot of talk about results not being important at this level but the irony of all this is that if you don't win in these tournament you don't progress and the players miss out on challenging themselves at a World Cup.

"My view on this has always been that winning is, and always has been, important but it's the manner in which you go about trying to win.

"We have an Australian way of playing now and we will go there with the intention of winning with the possession based style of football that we espouse in our national curriculum philosophy,” Edwards concluded.

The Qantas Joeys have been drawn in Group B for the AFC U-16 Championship 201 and will face Thailand in their opening match of the tournament on Saturday 22 September, followed by Oman on 24 September with their last group match against Iraq on 26 September.

The top two teams from each group of the AFC U-16 Championship 2012 will progress to the knockout stage (quarter-finals) and the four winners of the quarter-finals will then play in the semi-finals with the winners advancing to the final.

The semi-finalists will also automatically qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup which will be held in the United Arab Emirates in late 2013.

The Qantas Joeys have prepared for the AFC U-16 Championship 2012 by competing at the ASEAN Football Federation U-16 Preparatory Tournament in Vientiane, Laos, Saudi Arabia tournament in late July and recently an altitude training camp in Bolivia.

Qantas Joeys Squad for AFC U-16 Championship 2012 Iran - 21 September to 6 October 2012

Name Club/Institute Bai ANTONIO NSWIS James BALDACCHINO South Coast Wolves (NSW) Aaron CALVER NSWIS Daniel DE SILVA Football West Alexander GERSBACH AIS Jack IREDALE AIS Andre JANNESE AIS Steve KUZMANOVSKI AIS Kevin LY NSWIS Joshua MACDONALD NSWIS Darcy MADDEN AIS Todd NORRIS AIS Matthew NTOUMENOPOULOS AIS Rocco PIZZATA Football West Jordan PUDLER Football Federation South Australia Liam ROSE AIS Matthew SCHMIDT AIS Lucas SPINELLA AIS Lukas STERGIOU Sutherland Sharks FC Matthew STEWART NSWIS Hyuga TANNER Blackburn Rovers FC, England Jordan THURTELL AIS Taylor TOMBIDES West Ham United, England