Head coach Trevor Morgan paid tribute to the Joeys’ never-say-die attitude after Australia beat FIFA U-17 World Cup heavyweights Nigeria, 2-1, to advance to the Round of 16.
The Joeys had fallen behind in their opening two games as they battled to a 2-1 defeat against Ecuador before launching a two-goal comeback in a 2-2 draw with Hungary.
Featured image courtesy of fifa.com
Australia started on the front foot in their crucial Group B decider against the five-time FIFA U-17 world champions, who lifted back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2015, and never looked back.
Noah Botic’s double clinched third place behind Nigeria and Ecuador and ensures the Joeys’ Brazilian adventure continues as one of the four best third-place finishers with four points.
A knock-out match with France, Senegal or Japan awaits, depending on results in the remaining group matches, as the Joeys' wait to discover their fate at around midday on Sunday AEDT.
“We came here to win games and, although Nigeria were fantastic, we got the result,” said Morgan.
“It’s a plus for the boys, for their commitment and belief to come here and play a top team and win.”
Nigeria had only lost twice in their last 30 FIFA U-17 World Cup matches heading into the encounter at Estadio Bezerrão in Brasilia.
The Super Eagles have reached the final of each of the last five FIFA U-17 World Cups they have played, winning three of them.
The Joeys were forced to soak up pressure, with the Africans firing in 34 shots to Australia’s 10, which Morgan believes will hold his players in good stead.
“They had to dig deep,” Morgan said.
“[The Joeys] played an excellent team with great quality and great physical capacity. We had to defend well which I think is important in winning.
“It did show the boys were able to keep concentrating, keep working, and in the end the result was fantastic for us.”
AUSSIES ABROAD: Smith in MLS Cup final as Sounders stun LAFC
FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP: Joeys produce spirited comeback to draw with Hungary