JOEYS head coach Jan Versliejen dubbed his young squad's remarkable return from the dead victory as like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
The Joeys made it into the U17 World Cup after coming back from being 2-0 down against United Arab Emirates to win their AFC U16 Championship quarter final 3-2.
The Qantas Joeys were down two goals by the end of the first half and looked to be on their way out of the tournament until Corey Brown pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute.
Substitute Giancarlo Gallifuoco scored the equaliser deep into additional time to send the match into extra-time and Gallifuoco confirmed his hero status ten minutes into the first period of extra time when he scored the winning goal that confirmed the Joeys' place in the semi-finals and also next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
After the match, Qantas Joeys Head Coach Jan Versleijen was ecstatic about his team’s achievement after conceding two goals in the first half.
“We started quite nervously and didn't reach the level we needed to in the first half. UAE put a lot of pressure on us and forced mistakes which cost the goals,” said Versleijen.
“At half time it was two-nil and we needed to make some changes and adjust the way we played. We made two changes and (Giancarlo) Gallifuoco had a big impact and gave us a target up front. It was a very bizarre finish to normal time and was like a script out of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.
“In extra time I thought we would have fresher legs as the UAE starting team had played three games in five days. We were able to rest some players in the match against Japan and this helped us today. The players showed great heart and determination and fortunately for us the game went our way.
“It is a great achievement by the players and team staff and they should be very proud of their achievement in qualifying for Mexico.
"This is the first time since Australia joined AFC that both youth teams, the Qantas Young Socceroos and Qantas Joeys have qualified for their respective Youth World Cups.”
Going into the match, it was a case of déjà vu for both teams as two years previously the Joeys met the UAE in the quarter finals stage of the same tournament which was also held in Uzbekistan.
On that occasion, the UAE defeated the Joeys 3-2 with the winning goal coming in the 91st minute of the match.
The UAE started this quarter-final match the better of the two teams, controlling the opening the 15 minutes, creating plenty of chances and keeping the Joeys goal keeper Paul Izzo very busy in the process.
Yousif Saeed opened the scoring for the UAE in the 18th minute stabbing home his shot past Izzo’s left hand after some good build-up play.
The lead could have been doubled for the Gulf nation in the 23rd minute after a neat exchange of passes around the penalty area by Ahmed Rabia and Yousif Saeed which resulted in Rabia shooting and Izzo forced to make a fantastic diving save to prevent an almost certain goal.
The UAE did eventually extend their lead on the stroke of half time when Abdulla Moosa hit a shot from inside the box which Izzo was only able to deflect into the right-hand goal post that eventually rolled into the goal.
Sensing that some drastic changes were needed to get back into the game, head coach Jan Versleijen made two substitutions with Giancarlo Gallifuoco coming on for Anthony Proia and Riley Woodcock on for Ben Garrucio.
The tactical changes nearly paid dividends three minutes into the second half when Gallifuoco beat three defenders, turned and shot, but unfortunately his attempt went marginally wide of the target.
Gallifuoco had another gilt-edged chance eight minutes later after he narrowly headed wide a Corey Brown ball into box.
Although the odds were stacked against the Joeys, they continued to toil hard throughout the second half, never giving up and conceding that their tournament was over.
The Joeys were rewarded for their efforts in the 82nd minute after a Kwabene Boahene cross from the right found Corey Brown in the box whose header beat the diving UAE keeper, Nasser Abdulla, to reduce the deficit and give the Australians a feint glimmer of hope for a comeback.
Following the goal, the Joeys continued to put pressure on the UAE defence by playing plenty balls into their box.
Just before the end of regulation time Jesse Makarounas had a chance to equalise after Gallifuoco set him up following a long ball by Yianni Perkatis from midfield. Unfortunately Makarounas’ shot from within the box went over the cross bar.
Less than a minute later Corey Brown also had a chance after he ran onto a loose ball on edge of box. Brown’s desperate shot then hit the left-hand post and bounced back into play, but there was no team mate there to follow up the attempt.
The fourth official, Aonruk Apisit, signalled that an additional four minutes of time would be played at the end of regulation time and to most at the JAR Stadium it seemed that the Qantas Joeys would again be knocked out by the UAE at the quarter final stage of the tournament.
But with 10 seconds to go, another long ball by Perkatis into the box found Gallifuoco. Gallifuoco was able to loop his header over a scrambling Nasser Abdulla and bounce the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal with the last play of the game to send the match into extra-time.
With momentum and confidence behind them, the Joeys started extra time by applying the same amount of pressure that they had during the previous 45 minutes.
Ten minutes into the first period of extra time, Gallifuoco controlled the ball just outside the box, worked it down the left side and then played a flat ball into box towards Makarounas who seemed to get his foot onto the ball as it rolled over the line for the Joeys third goal.
The official referees report would later credit Gallifuoco with the goal, but that mattered little for the Joeys who were buzzing after they had finally taken the lead at such a late stage of the game.
Two minutes later, the UAE had a chance to equalise themselves following a corner which Izzo cleared towards UAE forward Majid Shahin. Shahin’s resulting shot was then valiantly cleared off the line by Riley Woodcock.
The second period of extra time saw the UAE have two close chances in the 117th and 119th minutes with the first shot just going wide and the second shot deflected over the crossbar. Ultimately, the Joeys defence held firm to record a very memorable victory for the Australians.
In the other quarter-finals Uzbekistan defeated Syria 2-1, Japan accounted for Iraq 3-1 and DPR Korea thrashed Jordan 4-0.
The Qantas Joeys will now face the host nation Uzbekistan in the semi-finals on Thursday November 4 (kick-off 2:00pm local, 8.00pm AEDT) with the winner to play either Japan or DPR Korea in the final of the AFC U-16 Championship which will be played on Sunday November 7 (kick-off 2:00pm local, 8.00pm AEDT).
Qantas Joeys 3 (Corey Brown 82’, Giancarlo Gallifuoco 90+4’/99’)
United Arab Emirates 2 (Yousif Saeed 18’, Abdulla Moosa 45’)
Jar Stadium, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Monday 1 November 2010
Referee: Ogiya Kenji (JAPAN)
Assistant Referees: Yagi Akane (JAPAN) & Ameez Ahmed (MALDIVES)
Fourth Official: Aonruk Apisit (THAILAND)
Qantas Joeys line up: 1.Paul IZZO (gk), 2.Jake MONACO, 3.Connor CHAPMAN (c), 4.Hayden MORTON, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Yianni PERKATIS, 8.Kwabena BOAHENE, 9.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 10.Anthony PROIA (13.Giancarlo GALLIFUOCO 46’), 19.Luke REMINGTON (17.Jacob MELLING 62’), 27.Ben GARUCCIO (25.Riley WOODCOCK 46’)
Substitutes not used: 11.Brodie PATERSON, 12.Lachlan TIBBLES (gk), 14.Nicholas ANSELL, 15.Samuel CHAPPLE, 16.Milos DEGENEK, 18.Daniel SADAKA (gk), 24.Jakob WILLIAMS, 21.Abe WHEELHOUSE, 23.Kwame YEBOAH,
Yellow Cards: Hayden Morton 79’, Lachlan Tibbles 90+4’, Connor Chapman 107’, Corey Brown 113’,
Red Cards: Nil