Qantas Young Socceroos lose in Paraguay

Qantas Young Socceroos lose in Paraguay, despite a solid performance

The Qantas Young Socceroos have been defeated 0-2 in their opening match of their South American tour against the Paraguay U-20 National Team in Asunción today.

In front of a small crowd at the Libertad Stadium, the Qantas Young Socceroos found themselves a goal down in the third minute after goal keeper Alex Pearson played a ball out to Trent Sainsbury at the back.

Sainsbury then tried to play a ball into midfield, but his errant pass fell to a Paraguayan attacker, Diego Benítez, and his ensuing clean strike easily beat Pearson.

Paraguay dominated for the majority of the half with the Qantas Young Socceroos adjusting to the tempo and skill level later in the piece.

Five minutes before the break, Paraguay went into attack with a switch of play that ended with in a cross into the box to Paraguayan striker Iván Torres who chested the ball down and then neatly finished past Pearson to double his teams lead.

The second half started more evenly with both teams playing good possession football.

Unfortunately, midway through the half a power failure switched off the floodlights which resulted in a 20 minute delay in proceedings.

After the restart, the Qantas Young Socceroos applied pressure to their hosts for the final twenty minutes with their two best chances to score coming in the final ten minutes of the match.

In the 83rd minute substitutes Mustafa Amini and Ben Halloran combined well to work the ball to the edge of the box but Halloran's final shot was marginally wide of the goals.

Just before the final whistle, Kerem Bulut stole the ball deep in his defensive half and ran the length of the field to edge of box, unfortunately his shot was also wide of the target.

After the match, Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen was optimistic about his team's performance.

"We came to South America to play quality opposition and that is what we got tonight, our players learnt a lot by the experience," said Versleijen

"The only two players who really dealt with the pressure and intensity were Ben Kantarovski and Kerem Bulut. Ben in particular has played first team football for the past two years and was also a part of an U-20 World Cup and he, along with Kerem, matched the level of the Paraguay players.

"This is a step the others need to still make and hopefully this experience will help them become first team players in their clubs. To compare, all the opposition players play first team for their clubs here in Paraguay,” concluded Versleijen.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will play their next match at the Rubio NU Stadium in Asunción on 8 April (Kick-off 4.30pm local/ 5:30am AEST) against the Paraguay U-20 National team and will then play two matches against the Argentinean U-20 National Team in Buenos Aires on 13 &15 April.

The Qantas Young Socceroos are currently preparing for the AFC U-19 Championship 2010 which will be held 3-17 October 2010 in Zibo, Shandong Province, China PR

The draw for the AFC U-19 Championship 2010 Finals will be held in the host city of Zibo, China, on 9 May with the tournament to be played from 3-17 October, 2010, at the Zibo Sports Complex Stadium and Linzi Stadium. The top four (4) teams from the AFC U-19 Championship will qualify for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup which will be held in Colombia.

Match Details

Paraguay 2 (Diego Benítez 3', Iván Torres 40')

Qantas Young Socceroos 0

Libertad Stadium, Asunción, Paraguay Referee: Carlos Galeano. Assistant Referees: Rodney Aquino & Darío Gaona

Paraguay line-up: Mario OVANDO, Raúl CÁCERES, Gustavo GÓMEZ, Diego VIERA (Arnaldo RECALDE) y Heberth RAMÍREZ (Derlis VILLALBA); Diego BENÍTEZ (Darío FERREIRA), Hernán PÉREZ, Marcos GIMÉNEZ (Jorge JARA) y Oscar RUIZ; Iván TORRES (Alberto CONTRERAS) y Jorge ORTEGA (Miguel MEDINA).

Qantas Young Socceroos line-up: Alex PEARSON (gk), Nikola STANOJEVIC, Trent SAINSBURY, Petar FRANJIC, Sam GALLAGHER, Steven LUSTICA, Francesco MONTEROSSO (Ben HALLORAN 60'), Ben KANTAROVSKI (C), Kerem BULUT, Theo MARKELIS (Mustafa AMINI 60'), Stephen DOMENICI (Kliment TASESKI 60').