The Young Socceroos have enjoyed a solid hit-out against Korea Republic with a 1-1 draw in an unofficial training match as part of their preparations for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 which starts later this month.
Young Socceroos head coach Jan Versleijen gave the bulk of the squad significant game time in the three x 27 minutes match, played in hot conditions at the Regis University Soccer Field.
Although both sides were more concerned with the performance rather than the score, the match began at a fast pace, with the teams trying to adjust to the altitude and pace of the football.
The Koreans had a long-range effort midway through the first third which Young Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Birighitti elegantly tipped over the crossbar. The Young Socceroos best chance of the third came in the 26th minute when Kofi Danning chipped a pass to an unmarked Matthew Fletcher at the far post whose shot brought out a point-blank save from Korean goalkeeper No Dong Geon.
The second third saw only one change to the Young Socceroos line-up with Mustafa Amini coming on for fellow midfielder Jake Barker-Daish.
The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when Danning beat his defender, got to the goal line inside the box and cut back to Bernie Ibini-Isei at the far post who made no mistake with his shot from close range.
The Young Socceroos had a chance to double the lead two minutes later when a Marc Warren corner from the right found the head of Brendan Hamill who headed back across goal to Dylan McGowan. McGowan flicked the ball towards goal only to see his effort cleared off the line by a Korean defender.
Fletcher had another chance to score in the 49th minute after getting onto the end of a throughball from McGowan. His one-on-one shot was once again well saved by the Korean keeper.
A minute later the Korean’s had a free-kick just outside the Young Socceroos penalty box. Lee Ki Je stepped up and swung a perfectly placed left-footed strike into the top-left corner of the goal, giving the diving Birighitti no chance of saving.
The last third saw both teams make a number of changes to their line-ups which, for the Young Socceroos, included the much anticipated appearance of Ben Kantarovski after his successful recovery from a knee reconstruction. The remainder of the match remained an arm wrestle with both teams threatening but unable to find the back of the net.
After the match, Young Socceroos head coach Jan Versleijen was pleased with his team’s solid first effort at altitude.
"For us at this moment it is important to play matches like this against quality opposition like Korea," said Versleijen.
"The majority of players had a good amount of game time and most importantly there were no injuries to speak of.
"We are not quite there in terms of our match fitness and there are a number of technical things to work on still, but we are progressing as expected.
"We will have a recovery tomorrow morning, talk about what we need to improve and then have our final training match against England on Friday."
The Young Socceroos will play another friendly match against England on Friday at Dick's Sporting Goods Training Field before heading to Colombia to finalise preparations for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Australia: 1.Mark Birighitti (gk) (c) (18.Matthew Acton (gk) 55'), 2.Rhyan Grant, 3.Dylan McGowan (16.Petar Franjic 55'), 5.Marc Warren (17.Sam Gallagher 55'), 7.Kofi Danning (20.Jake Barker-Daish 55'), 8.Terry Antonis, 13.Matthew Fletcher, 15.Brendan Hamill (4.Trent Sainsbury 55'), 19.Bernie Ibini-Isei, 20.Jake Barker-Daish ((10.Mustafa Amini 28')( 6.Ben Kantarovski 55')) 21.Dimitrios Petratos
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Lawrence Thomas (gk)
Yellow Cards: Bernie Ibini-Isei 61'