Qantas Young Socceroos advance to final

Qantas Young Socceroos advance to final of AFF U-19 Youth Championships after 4-1 trouncing of Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY 29 July 2010

The Qantas Young Socceroos will take on defending champion Thailand in the AFF U-19 Youth Championships 2010 Final after a convincing 4 - 1 win over the previously unbeaten Vietnam team .

With Australia already guaranteed a place in the final due to the earlier game between Korea Republic and Thailand ending in a nil-all draw the Qantas Young Socceroos put on their best performance against a Vietnamese team searching for a draw that would have booked their passage in the final.

With a large vocal crowd still getting to their seats, 17-year-old Mustafa Amini opened the scoring for the Qantas Young Socceroos in the opening minute after Nikola Stanjevic played a tremendous ball into the box for Sunderland FC striker Matthew Fletcher to flick the ball to an onrushing Amini.

Amini then lobbed the ball over his opponent before hitting a sweet half volley past the advancing Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Buu Ngoc.

With the wet and muddy pitch conditions due to an earlier downpour making it difficult for both teams the Qantas Young Socceroos still managed to move the ball around effectively before finding space in behind the Vietnam defence with timely runs from Mathew Leckie and Benjamin Halloran.

Fletcher looked right at home in the conditions and was causing the Vietnamese defence all sorts of problems holding the ball up effectively and bringing his teammates into the game with deft touches.

The Qantas Young Socceroos extended their lead in the 14th minute when Leckie found himself unmarked on the back post to head home from a well rehearsed Sam Gallagher corner from the right.

Vietnam were looking dangerous on the counterattack and in the 21st minute Mathew Acton, getting his first start for the tournament in goal, produced a stunning reflex save from a one-on-one situation with Le Quoc Phuong.

Halloran then made sure the Australian-s went into the break with a comfortable 3-nil lead with a goal of sheer quality.

Following some neat one touch passing between Steven Lustica, Amini and Gallagher, the ball was switched across the field to Fletcher who, after making a great run in behind the Vietnam defence, glided past two defenders before slotting a pass to Halloran in the box.

Halloran then sent Tran Buu Ngoc the wrong way with a step over and placed the ball calmly into the empty goal to silence the large group of vocal supporters.

Qantas Young Socceroos coach Jan Versleijen, with the final in mind, made two changes at the interval bringing on 16-year-old AIS midfielder Ryan Edwards for Leckie and Theodore Markelis for Amini.

Both players had an instant impact on the game, charging at the Vietnam defence and linking up well with Fletcher.

Vietnam had a good spell midway through the second half thanks to the midfield pairing of Captain Ngo Hoang Thinh and Nguyen Tan Tai.

In the 56th minute Vietnam where award a free kick just inside the Australian half due to a late tackle on Ngo Hoang Thinh.

From the resulting free-kick Acton found himself collecting the ball from the back-of-the-net thanks to a wicked deflection from the Vietnamese free-kick landing straight to Nguyen Van Thanh who slammed the ball into the far right corner.

Australia were soon to restore their three goal lead when, in the 73rd minute Halloran collected the ball on the left, cut inside and switched it out to the right where Edwards had made a great run in behind his defender.

Edwards then whipped a first time inch perfect cross to the head of the onrushing Eli Babalj, who had come on as a replacement for Fletcher, to power past the Vietnamese keeper.

For the remainder of the game the young Aussies were in complete control conjuring up more chances against a deflated Vietnamese team.

Kantarovski, McGowan and Hollaran were again outstanding, Acton and Fletcher, starting for the first time in the tournament put in eye catching performances and the teams youngsters Amini and Edwards continued to show great promise.

"We won in 2008 from a penalty shoot out against South Korea, last year we lost to Thailand in a penalty shootout after we were locked at 2 all after extra time, we will be out for revenge this time around,” said Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen.

“It is our third final and today against Vietnam, we rested several of our regular players in anticipation of the match against Thailand (in two days).

“We already knew the result between Thailand and Korea which meant that we were a bit more relaxed playing against Vietnam.”

The Qantas Young Socceroos will now go into the showdown with Thailand brimming with confidence after this emphatic performance and be looking to make amends for their defeat in a penalty shoot-out to Thailand at the same venue in the 2009 edition of the competition.

The AFF U-19 Championship Final will be on Friday 30th July at 6.30pm at Thong Nhat Stadium.

Australia 4 (Mustafa Amini 1-, Mathew Leckie 14-, Benjamin Halloran 40-, Eli Babalj 73-)

Vietnam 1 (Nguyen Van Thanh 57-)

28 July 2010 AFF U-19 Youth Championships 2010 Thong Nat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Qantas Young Socceroos starting line-up: 18. Matthew Acton (GK), 2. Nikola Stanojevic, 4. Sam Gallagher, 6. Benjamin Kantarovski (c), 7. Mathew Leckie (20. Ryan Edwards 45-), 8. Steven Lustica, 11. Benjamin Halloran, 13. Mustafa Amini (17. Theodore Markelis 45-), 14. Matthew Fletcher (9. Eli Babalj 60-), 16. Daniel Bowles, 19. Dylan McGowan

Substitutes not used: 1. Mark Birighitti (GK), 3. Brendan Hamill, 5. Kliment Taseski, 10. Christopher Bush, 12. Dimitrios Petratos, 15. Kamal Ibrahim.