Young Socceroos face tough test in Colombia

by Staff Writer on Apr 28, 2011

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Australia's Young Socceroos have been pitted in a tough group alongside Ecuador, Costa Rica and Spain for July's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

After learning the tournament draw result, Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen, believes that it will be a big challenge for his team, but a challenge that they have been preparing for since qualification.

“It’s always said that there are no easy matches at a World Cup and from looking at our group this is definitely true,” said Versleijen

“We played Costa Rica at the last World Cup in Egypt so we are familiar with their style of play.

“Spain is one of the strongest teams in Europe and are famous for their youth development programs so we are expecting them to be very tough.

“Ecuador is the unknown quantity within the group so we will have to be on our game playing them in a climate that they are accustomed to.

“The altitude will also be a major factor at this tournament, so we will need to plan our physical and tactical preparation accordingly.

“Our target will be to progress beyond the group phase and from there anything is possible,” concluded Versleijen.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will travel to the USA in mid-July for a pre-tournament camp in Denver, Colorado before moving to their base camp in the Colombian city of Manizales, situated 2300m above sea-level, during the first phase of the tournament.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will play their first match of the tournament against Ecuador on Sunday 31 July, and then face Costa Rica on Wednesday 3 August before their final group match against Spain on Saturday 6 August.

Brazil will face Egypt in the opening match of the tournament on Friday 29 July in Barranquilla.

The Oceania representative for the tournament will be decided on Friday when New Zealand hosts the Solomon Islands in the final of the OFC U-20 Championship which will be played at North Harbour Stadium.

The Qantas Young Socceroos qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup having made final of the AFC U19 Youth Championships in Zibo, China last year.

2009 second-place finishers Brazil will kick-off their campaign to again reach the final with a match against Egypt on the first matchday of the tournament. In an Americas battle, Argentina will take on Mexico in Group F's headlining match.

On 30 July, the top match-up in Group A will feature the tournaments' hosts, Columbia, against France. Nigeria, hoping to add to their one U-20 title in the last ten tournaments, will follow-up the first two days of action with a match against Guatemala.

The groups for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 are as follows:

Group A (Bogota/Cali)
Columbia
France
Mali
Korea Republic

Group B (Cali/Bogota)
Portugal
Uruguay
Cameroon
Champion of Oceania (TBD)

Group C (Manizales/Pereira)
Australia
Ecuador
Costa Rica
Spain

Group D (Armenia/Pereira)
Croatia
Saudi Arabia
Nigeria
Guatemala

Group E (Barranquilla/Cartagena)
Brazil
Egypt
Austria
Panama

Group F (Medellin/Cartagena)
Argentina
Mexico
England
Korea DPR