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Young Socceroos dominate Czechs in draw

ASA RELEASE: Australia has commenced their 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A disappointing first half display saw the Australians behind at the interval following a 24th minute goal for the Czechs. However the Young Socceroos came out in the second half playing with renewed vigour and equalised just four minutes after the break through captain Scott McDonald who scored from close range following an Alex Brosque corner.

The Czechs dominated the early exchanges in the game with the Australians perhaps experiencing opening game nerves. Australian goalkeeper being Nathan Coe called into action on a number of occasions in the opening half-hour.

The Young Socceroos best moment of the first half came in the 21st minute, when a Dustin Wells free kick from the left was only partially cleared as far as Brosque, whose seemingly goal bound volley hit a defender in a packed penalty area.

Three minutes later, Anthony Danze was cautioned for holding and from the ensuing free kick, taken near the halfway line, the Czech’s opened the scoring. The deep kick to the far side of the penalty area was headed back towards the penalty spot where David Limbersky hit a clinical volley that gave Coe no chance.

On the half hour, the Czech’s were unlucky not to go two up, when a break down the left resulted in the ball being feed into the middle for Ladislav Volesak, whose shot on the turn from the edge of the area took a slight deflection, hitting Coe’s right hand post and bouncing out for a corner. From the corner, Coe made a spectacular one-handed save to deny a headed attempt at goal by the Czech’s.

After a disappointing first half, the Young Socceroos commenced the second half with the knowledge that they were going to have to improve considerably if they wished to get anything from the game. They did just that with the help of contingent of Australians amongst the crowd, many of whom had taken up the offer to obtain tickets available from the Australian Consulate.

Three minutes after the break Brosque hit a crisp volley from the edge of the box, which forced the Czech keeper into a smart save. One minute later however Australia was on level terms through a set-piece that saw Brosque’s corner from the left headed to the back post by the towering David Tarka for McDonald to stab home from close range.

Australia was now starting to control significantly more possession, though making little headway in term of shots on target.

A key moment of the game came mid-way through the second stanza when McDonald, put through by a fantastic pass from substitute Matthew McKay, was denied a chance to make it 2-1 as he was adjudged offside in what appeared the harshest of decisions.

The last chance of the game fell to the Czech’s, who, missing two Slavia Prague players unavailable for the game due to UEFA Cup commitments, fired over a deep corner where Coe was forced to turn a downward header around the post.

In the other Group C match played overnight Brazil defeated Canada 2-0 to lead the group standings after one match each.

The remaining Group C matches for the Australians will be against Canada on Monday 1 December (5.45pm UAE time) and Brazil on Friday 5 December (5.45pm UAE time). All Group C matches are being played in the Rashid Stadium, Dubai.

The top two teams from each group plus the four best third placed teams from the six groups will qualify for the second round.

The 24-team tournament, which commenced on Wednesday, will conclude with the final on 19 December in Abu Dhabi.

The Australian Soccer Association website has comprehensive details on the Young Socceroos in it’s ‘quick links’ section, including player profiles, historical information, tournament details, etc. – www.australiansoccer.com.au

Media wishing to source media opportunities with players or coach are requested to make contact with the Australian Under 20s media officer via ph 0438 623 094 (global roaming) or [email protected]

Match Details

Australia 1 (Scott McDonald 49′)

Czech Republic 1 (David Limbersky 24′)

Australian Line-up: Nathan Coe (gk); Alex Wilkinson, David Tarka, Carl Valeri, Spase Dilevski, Mile Jedinak, Scott McDonald, Alex Brosque, Anthony Danze (Jonathan Richter 81′), Dustin Wells (Matt McKay 65′), Michael Thwaite

Subs Not Used: Tom Willis (gk); Wayne Heath, Steve Pantelidis, Massimo Murdocca, Vince Lia, Michael Baird

Unavailable: Jobe Wheelhouse (injured)

Yellow Cards: Spase Dilevski (6′), Anthony Danze (23′)

Referee: Abdou Diouf (Senegal)

Crowd: 8,200

POSTECOGLOU HOLDS OFF NAMING SIDE TO FACE CANADA

ASA: Young Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou will wait until after tonight’s training session (tomorrow morning Australian time) before settling on a starting eleven for tomorrow’s crucial game against Canada at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship.

With 16 teams out of 24 qualifying for the second round – the two top teams from each group plus the four best third-placed teams – victory against the Canadians would all but assure qualification for the round of 16 second.

The players enjoyed a full day break yesterday after their exertions the previous evening against the Czech’s.

“We will train tonight and afterwards make some final decisions (on the final line-up tonight),” says Postecoglou. “For most part there won’t be too many changes if any.”

The Canadians looked solid in holding the Brazilians in the first half of their match on Friday before being outplayed in the second half for a 2-0 loss.

“Looking at the way they played the other night, I really don’t think they will play like that against us,” said Postecoglou. “They played very defensively against Brazil and really just played to contain the scoreline than anything else. With us they have to come out and play a bit more because obviously they need to win the game.”

“There are some good athletes in the Canadian team, they are quick and will play if given the opportunity. They seemed to sit back almost the whole game against Brazil even when they were conceded the goals so I expect them to play a little differently against us. Having said all that it is a game we have to win and we are concentrating on what we need to do.”

After a sluggish opening half against the Czech Republic in the first game of the tournament Postecoglou expects the lessons to be learnt.

“I think the players have got the message pretty clearly,” he says. “You just cannot afford to be less than 100% in terms of focus and concentration in a world cup game. We really only played for 45 minutes against the Czech Republic and almost paid a big price for that. I think the players are prepared to play for the full 90 minutes this time. It is almost a grand final for us and I expect the boys to come out firing.

The coach should also have the luxury of having the full complement of 20 players to choose from with Jobe Wheelhouse, who wasn’t available for the first game, expected to train tonight and Scotty McDonald who went into the first game with a shoulder problem continually improving.

Competition for places also remains healthy with good camaraderie amongst the squad and total commitment at training.

“All the guys are training really well, says Postecoglou. “They are ready to jump in if required and are putting pressure on the guys that played in the first eleven in the first game to perform. I have no concerns that if I had to make a change they would step in and do a good job.”

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