Joeys head coach Tony Vidmar is happy that his team has qualified for next year’s U-17 World Cup but believes there is a lot of improvement to come.
The Australians booked a spot at the 2015 tournament last month after reaching the semi-finals of the AFC Under-16 Championships. The Joeys were knocked out of in a penalty shootout with DPR Korea who went on to win the tournament.
Vidmar, who described players within his squad as "big talents", was pleased with his side’s performance in Thailand but wants more in the future.
“I think in the overall competition we performed well,” Vidmar said.
“Against China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and North Korea we can say we dominated the games in playing proactive football in both possession and when the opponent had possession.
“The way the team performed was good but I still feel they have a lot more to improve on especially the way we wanted to play. In these tournaments it comes down to a matter of seconds or minutes if you qualify or not.
“Looking at a long-term approach, these players will get an opportunity to play against very good under 17 teams at World Cup.
“But before that, getting more international experience is, I think, so important at this age.”
The Joeys kicked off the AFC Championship with wins over China (3-0), Hong Kong (2-0) and Japan (4-2), then reached the semi-final stage with a come from behind victory over Malaysia (2-1).
Vidmar said: “It definitely showed that the players have great character but the pleasing part was that they didn’t panic or fall into the trap of playing Malaysia’s game.
“They stuck to the game plan and how we play and executed it well. The technical staff felt that winning the group was important because you would of played either Thailand, Oman or Malaysia and we were confident of winning.
“Finishing second you come up against South Korea who are a good team. But we also saw them play and all agreed that we could win against them. Against Japan we were outplayed.
“They kept it simple by keeping the ball and continually moving the ball. When we had the ball we kept it well but turned possession over unforced. When we defended we had several players not doing their roles properly and that made Japan keep the ball for longer periods than us.”
Forward Cameron Joice scored four goals for the Joeys at the tournament while Liverpool youngster Jake Brimmer fired in some stunning free-kicks. Vidmar said he was pleased with his whole team’s display.
“I don’t think we had a standout player, we had a very good collective group performance,” he said.
“Duro Dragicevic in goals was terrific, Kye Rowles, Perry Fotokopoulos in central defence were good with and without the ball.
The smallest player on the field, Joe Caletti is a very smart player, positions himself so well to receive the ball and has a massive heart when defending.
“Charlie Devereux continues to improve with each game and the same goes with Cameron Joice – he is playing the role as a number nine very well and there are other players who we can mention as well.
“Many of our players are big talents and Jake is in that category. There are good parts to his game and many areas where he must continually improve which I think he can do, but he must push himself.”
PIC: footballaustralia.com.au (Joeys starting XI against Japan)comments