The Joeys have had their first dress rehearsal ahead of their opening match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, defeating Canada 2-1 in an unofficial training match at the Pachuca Club De Futbol complex, located approximately 90 kilometres from Mexico City.
Played at altitude in extremely blustery conditions, the 3x30 minute training game was the Joeys’ first hit out since they arrived in Mexico and their first against an international opponent since the AFC Championships in November last year.
West Australian Jesse Makarounas and England based West Ham United striker Dylan Tombides both found the back of the net as the Joeys were in control for the majority the contest, although Canada managed to sneak a late consolation goal.
While the score finished in Australia’s favour, the result was of secondary importance to Joeys Head Coach Jan Versleijen, who knows there is still much improvement needed in his side as it prepares to meet Côte d'Ivoire in the opening match of its World Cup campaign on June 20.
Versleijen says the game against Canada, together with another friendly against Uruguay on Wednesday, are crucial to increase the team’s standard and also in adjusting to the variation an unfamiliar conditions of playing at altitude.
“It was our first international game since November last year and it was about time we saw what level we are at,” Versleijen said.
“Playing against Canada probably didn’t give us too much of an idea how we are going now, but if I look at our game I can say there were some good things and things we have tried to work on.”
“The good thing about playing a game is that you can pick out the good things and pick out the things that were not so good and try to address them for the next game against Uruguay, which will be a bigger challenge.”
The Joeys enjoyed large periods of possession in the first half an hour but were struggling to penetrate into Canada’s half of the field. That was until the 29th minute when Makarounas was taken down illegally by the Canadian goalkeeper in the penalty area, the attacking midfielder then stepping up to calmly convert from the spot.
The lead was then doubled in the 50th minute courtesy of a brilliant solo effort from Tombides. The 17-year old chased down a Canada free kick in midfield and then forced another turnover, his hard work rewarded as he produced a nonchalant chip over the keeper after getting on the end of a perfectly weighted Makarounas ball over the defence.
On the hour mark all bar captain Connor Chapman and midfielder Jacob Melling made way as Versleijen gave the remainder of his squad some valuable game time.
The training match against the Uruguay U-17 team on Wednesday afternoon (Mexico time) is certain to give the Joeys a much greater indication of where they are at leading into the World Cup, Versleijen sure to be looking for his side to make further progress on today’s performance.
“In altitude you have to keep the ball longer otherwise you get in trouble. Yes we kept the ball a long time, but we still need to find the moments that we can play forward,” Versleijen said.
“The biggest thing is that the players have to try to recognise within a possession game when they can play forward. That’s another step you want to make in your development.”
“With this next game against Uruguay, it gives us a chance to make these areas of our game that we’ve been working on more perfect, so then we can be ready for when we go up against Côte d'Ivoire.”
The hit out against Uruguay will be the Joeys’ final competitive encounter before their opening match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 against Côte d'Ivoire in Guadalajara on Monday 20 June.
Training Match Details
Joeys 2 (Jesse Makarounas 29’, Dylan Tombides 50’)
@ Pachuca Club De Futbol, Mexico
Joeys squad: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 2.Jake MONACO, 3.Connor CHAPMAN (c), 4.Tom KING, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Yianni PERKATIS, 7.Hernan ESPINDOLA, 8.Mitch COOPER, 9.Dylan TOMBIDES, 10.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 11.Luke REMINGTON, 12.Lachlan TIBBLES (gk), 13.Teeboy KAMARA, 14.Milos DEGENEK, 15.Anthony PROIA, 16.Stefan MAUK, 17.Jacob MELLING, 18.Daniel SADAKA (gk), 19.Mitchell OXBORROW, 20.Nicholas ANSELL, 21.Riley WOODCOCK
Canada squad: 1.Maxime CRÉPEAU (gk), 2.Samuel PIETTE, 3.Tyler PASHER, 4.Ismail BENOMAR, 5.Daniel STANESE, 6.Parker SEYMOUR, 7.Marco LAPENNA, 8.Bryce ALDERSON, 9.Sadi JALALI, 10.Keven ALEMAN, 11.Christopher NANCO, 12.Matteo PASQUOTTI, 13.Luca GASPAROTTO, 14.Omari MORRIS, 15.Sergio CAMARAGO, 16.Jay CHAPMAN, 17.Yassin ESSA, 18.Quillan ROBERTS (gk), 19.Alex HALIS, 20.Michael PETRASSO, 21.Chad BUSH (gk)