The start of the Joeys’ campaign at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019™ in Brazil this weekend is the culmination of a long journey to qualify for the tournament.
Trevor Morgan’s talented group of youngsters came through the rigorous qualifying path in Asia, booking their spot among the world’s best just over a year ago.
It came at the AFC U-16 Championship in Malaysia last October, where they needed a Semi Final finish to advance to Brazil.
After working their way through the group stage, the Joeys came up against Indonesia in the last eight knowing a win would secure their dream ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019™.
“We had that trust and belief that we were going to go out there and get the job done,” skipper Ryan Teague recalled to socceroos.com.au.
“There’s no greater pride in life than putting on the green and gold jersey, especially growing up, it’s every footballers dream in Australia.”
In front of almost 14,000 fans, the young Aussies found themselves trailing 1-0 at the break.
But showing the type of fighting spirit, determination and quality that the team has become renowned for, the Joeys produced a second half to remember.
Daniel Walsh restored parity to the contest in the 51st minute with a fine header from a Birkan Kirdar free kick, before South Australia’s Adam Leombruno made it 2-1 14 minutes later.
Striker Noah Botic then added a third for the Joeys in the 74th minute when he curled a strike beyond Indonesian goalkeeper Ernando Ari Sutaryadi and - despite conceding before the end – the Joeys held on to book their ticket to Brazil.
“That qualification game against Indonesia, that was the best experience I’ve ever had,” Jordan Courtney-Perkins said.
“Once the full-time whistle went it was all a blur really. Just excitement and overwhelmed with how special that really was to all of us.”
Teague added: “Nothing compared to winning that. I almost cried in happiness after the game.”
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Australia has been drawn in Group B against Nigeria, Hungary and Ecuador in Group B of the 18th edition of the biennial competition which pits the world’s best youth players against each other.
Trevor Morgan’s squad have been putting the final touches on their preparations in a pre-tournament camp in Chile ahead of their opening encounter against South Americans, Ecuador, on Sunday, 27 October at 10.00am AEDT.
“A World Cup in Brazil, you couldn’t really ask for any better place to play,” Courtney-Perkins said.
“It’s something all the boys are really looking forward to and showcasing our talent to everyone and really doing well at the World Cup.
“We’re well prepared, we’re ready for the World Cup and ready for whatever is in front of us.”