Joeys vs Cote d'Ivoire - Group Match 1
The Australian Under 17 national side, the Joeys got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start this morning thanks to Jesse Macarounas and Dylan Tombides strikes that gave Australia a 2-1 come from behind victory against Cote d’Ivoire.
The Joey’s lined up in the now ‘standard’, FFA mandated 4-3-3 system. This side was billed in the media beforehand by coach Jan Versleijen as the first age bracket to grow up with the system, rather than the older lads who have had to adapt half way through their time with the national setup so big things were obviously expected. They started as follows:
For the first two minutes of the game Australia knocked the ball between each other around the back showing that they, like all football sides, can keep the ball when no pressure is applied. However, as soon as the Australian’s started to try and play through midfield and encountered some pressure, it immediately fell apart.
Cote d’Ivoire deserved their 1-0 lead which was gifted to them through a Tom King (on the books at Liverpool) error at the back when he tried to turn back in towards an attacker while trying to play out of the back rather than moving away. Possession was lost and after a few sharp passes, the goal was finished with a clinical strike past Izzo. Connor Chapman always looked good and confident stepping out of defence with the ball at his feet but overall distribution from the back into midfield was horrible. Not good to see when this is what the side’s strength and style is meant to be built from.
In midfield, retention of possession was again horrible. In particular Jacob Mellin made some poor decisions with the ball at his feet trying to play. I don’t like drilling players like him or King for making errors when trying to play football, especially at this age and to me the most disappointing element of the game was not the errors themselves, but the fact that Australia stopped trying to play and started kicking and hoping for the best. Was this a coached tactic by Versleijen? Why?!
From behind, Australia did show that they are still a capable side by going on to win the match 2-1 thanks to a pearler of a strike from Jesse Makarounas, hitting the ball on the volley from all of 20 yards which looped over the keeper to hit the back of the net. This was followed up by a Dylan Tombides special, instinctively beating the keeper at the near post after beating a defender in the box and forcing him to commit.
Izzo in goals helped the lads hold on, pulling out some cracking saves. Looks to be an excellent shot stopper but looked a little shaky at every corner, committing but never reaching the ball.
Australia ended the match looking like:
The Kamara change really brought life to the right side of our attack and to me, along with Tombides, really proved the stand out for Australia today.
So to wrap up, Australia did get the result but the game could ultimately be considered a failure in the way we played. Conceding 60/40% possession in a side that boasts playing through midfield as its primary tactic is just not good enough. I am very interested to see Versleijen’s reaction to this thinking when it ultimately gets put to him. Bring on Brazil!
Joeys line-up: 1. Paul IZZO, 2. Jake MONACO (21. Riley WOODCOCK 46'), 3. Connor CHAPMAN (C), 4. Tom KING, 5. Corey BROWN, 6. Yianni PERKATIS (14. Milos DEGENEK 67'), 7. Hernan ESPINDOLA (13.Teeboy KAMARA 65'), 8. Mitch COOPER, 9. Dylan TOMBIDES, 10. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 17. Jacob MELLIN.
Australia next faces Brazil on 24 June AEST, with the South American giant top of the group after a 3-0 win over Denmark in its opener.