Petratos scores winner for Qantas Young Socceroos

A 22nd minute goal from Sydney FC's Dimitri Petratos hands the Qantas Young Socceroos a 1-0 win over the Korea Republic in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) U-19 Youth Championships 2010 in Vietnam.

The Qantas Young Socceroos made an excellent start to the Asean Football Federation (AFF) U-19 Youth Championships 2010 in Vietnam with a 1-nil victory over Korea Republic.

In an encouraging performance a Dimitrios Petratos goal midway through the first half was enough to see off a determined and aggressive Korean team.

Korea Republic made good early progress adapting quicker to the wet and slippery conditions, during the first 20 minutes the Koreans continually looked to play the ball in behind the Australian defensive line hoping to capatilise on the conditions but with Mark Birighitti in commanding form the through balls and high balls into the box were effectively cut out.

Dylan McGowan and Brendan Hamill were making timely interceptions and as the game settled started to control the play from the back.

Their excellent passes into the midfield enabled Ben Kantarovski and young Mustafa Amini to dictate play. Amini, 17, a recent graduate from the AIS Program was particularly impressive showing great ability to conjure chances for his teammates from tight areas in attack.

With the Qantas Young Socceroos dominating proceedings the Koreans were forced to alter their formation midway through the first half moving one of their strikers, Baek Sung Dong back into midfield to try and counter the influence of Kantarovski.

However this move proved too little too late as the momentum was well and truly with the young Aussie side.

Mathew Leckie was looking dangerous and on the half hour mark found some space just outside the box to fire a scorching effort inches over the bar.

Moments later some excellent pressure football enabled Amini to win the ball from Kim Young UK in the middle of the Korean half, he then charged at the Korean defence and just as two defenders shut him down he slipped an inch perfect pass to Dimitrios Petratos inside the box.

Petratos held off his defender before unleashing a shot back across the Korean goalkeeper No Dong Geon which rebounded in off the far post.

Two styles of football were now evident as Korea Republic were still looking to play balls in behind the Australian defence for the lone striker Lee Jong Ho but the Australian back four of Nikola Stanojevic, Hamill, McGowan and Sam Gallagher managed to hold firm, instead were winning the ball and then providing the platform for the controlled possession build ups which was clearly frustrating the Korean players who were struggling to gain possession of the ball.

The link up play between Amini and Petratos was causing the Korean defence all sorts of problems. Only some last ditch tackles stopped Leckie and Petratos from adding to the half time score line.

Australia looked to capitalise on their dominance just after the break, when Leckie collected a loose ball in midfield and attacked the Korean goal at pace before again being stopped by some great defending by the Korean captain Jang Hyun Soo.

The introduction of Benjamin Halloran and Kliment Taseksi in the 62nd minute alongside that of young, 16 year old Ryan Edwards proved a master stroke by Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen as the team regained their composure to take the sting out of the relentless pressure from the Koreans.

The final 5 minutes was enthralling with chances at both ends, in the 87th minute the Koreans thought they had scored when Choi Sung Guen unleashed a 30 metre thunderbolt that was heading for the top right hand corner only to see Birighitti fling himself diagonally to make an amazing fingertip save.

“It is a good start, it took us 20 minutes to settle into the game, which was expected as it was the first time we have played together for a while and with some new players adapting to our way of playing,” said Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen.

“After the initial 20 minutes, we are all very happy with the way we played, with some really promising phases of play against a strong Korea Republic team.

“In spite of some moments in the game where we were under pressure we still managed to keep a clean sheet, Birighitti was fantastic during this tournament last year and today he was also.

“A lot of the players are now with Hyundai A-League clubs and gaining valuable experience, we have also an excellent group of 16 and 17 year olds that are coming through that have benefited or are still benefiting from the AIS environment.

“If not for a late injury, 16-year-old Terry Antonios was also in this squad so the future is looking bright, we just need more games like this.”


Australia 1 (Dimitrios Petratos 22-) Korea Republic 0 24 July 2010 AFF U-19 Youth Championships 2010 Thong Nat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Qantas Young Socceroos starting line-up: 1. Mark Birighitti (GK), 2. Nikola Stanojevic, 3. Brendan Hamill, 4. Sam Gallagher, 6. Benjamin Kantarovski ©, 7. Mathew Leckie, 8. Steven Lustica (5. Kliment Taseski 62nd), 12. Dimitrios Petratos (20. Ryan Edwards 75th), 13. Mustafa Amini, 15. Kamal Ibrahim (11. Benjamin Halloran 62nd), 19. Dylan McGowan

Substitutes not used: 9. Eli Babalj, 10.Christopher Bush, 14.Matthew Fletcher, 16.Daniel Bowles, 17.Theodore Markelis, 18.Matthew Acton (GK)

Australia-s next game is against Thailand on Monday 26th July at 4.00pm at Thong Nhat Stadium.