The Young Socceroos have defeated Timor Leste 3-0 to move into second place of Group E at the AFC U-22 Championship Qualifiers in Pekanbaru, Indonesia last night.
A first half goal from Luke O’Dea and two late goals from Jake Barker-Daish helped establish the win that has put the Young Socceroos within a point of guaranteeing qualification for the AFC U-22 Championships as they head into their final match of tournament against Japan on Sunday.
With Terry Antonis serving a one-match suspension for receiving a red-card against Singapore and Reece Caira unavailable for selection through illness, Young Socceroos Head Coach Paul Okon made minimal changes to his line-up from the one that faced Singapore on Tuesday evening with Connor Chapman taking the captain’s armband, a role he also held with the Joeys at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The first half saw plenty of end to end football with both teams sharing possession and Timor Leste going one-on-one and pressing hard when the Young Socceroos had the ball.
The opening goal came five minutes before half time when Jake Barker-Daish made a run through midfield and played in Luke O’Dea. O’Dea beat two defenders on the edge of the box and hit a right-footed strike with aplomb past the Indonesia goalkeeper Ramos Saozinho Ribeiro Maxanches.
Timor Leste had a good chance to equalise a minute later from a corner with a free header that forced a great save on the line from Young Socceroos goal keeper Nick Munro.
The Young Socceroos had a gilt-edged chance to extend their lead just before the half time whistle when Barker-Daish had a one-on-one opportunity but Maxanches was able to push his shot wide.
The second half saw Timor Leste become dangerous in the early exchanges creating a number of equalising chances but unable to convert.
The Young Socceroos were dealt a blow in the 55th minute when in form midfield Ben Garuccio received his second yellow card of the tournament which has now ruled him out of the final match against Japan.
Midway through the second half Okon made two substitutions in a bid to extend the lead with Garuccio and O’Dea replaced by Riley Woodcock (77’) and Anthony Proia (79’) and later Mitch Cooper replaced Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO.
Okon’s substitutions paid off in the 87th minute when Josh Brillante carried the ball down the right side and crossed into the box to Proia. Proia brought the ball down and laid it to the feet of Barker-Daish who finished with his left foot past the diving Indonesian goal keeper.
The result was sealed in additional time when Nick Fitzgerald gathered the ball on the right side and worked his way to the edge of the box, after beating his defender he squared the ball to the feet of Barker-Daish in the box who neatly slotted home to complete his double.
After the match Young Socceroos Head Coach Paul Okon was pleased with the result and even happier with the football that his team played.
“It was great to be back in the main stadium for this match. It was a very tough match against a fit Timor Leste team that pressed us for the majority of the match.
“The better playing surface at the main stadium allowed us to play some good football and I was very proud of the efforts of the players today after playing 4 games in the past 7 days in very hot and humid conditions.
“We finished the game off well and the final score was a just result for the opportunities we created. We now look forward to preparing for the final match against Japan in 3 days time,” concluded Okon.
In the other Group E matches Singapore defeated Macau 3-0 and Japan easily accounted for Indonesia 5-1.
The Young Socceroos will meet Japan in their final match of the tournament Sunday (15 July).
The top two teams from Group E and the best third placed team of all groups will then progress to the AFC U-22 Championship which will be played in January 2014.