Young Socceroos reach U-20 World Cup
The Young Socceroos are celebrating after a hat-trick from striker Corey Gameiro fired them into next year's FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Gameiro's three strikes secured a 3-0 victory over Jordan in the quarter-finals of the AFC Under-19 Championship in the United Arab Emirates and ensured his team of a berth at the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
On loan to FC Eindhoven in Holland from Premier League club Fulham, 19-year-old Wollongong product Gameiro struck in the 10th, 55th and 83rd minutes to set up a semi-final clash with Iraq.
But the significance of reaching the World Cup was not lost on the Young Socceroos after Australian youth teams' struggles in recent years, including the Olyroos inability to score a goal while failing to qualify for the London Olympics.
"It is an incredible feeling to qualify for the Under-20 World Cup," said coach Paul Okon.
"As a group we have only been together for 30 days as 10 of the players are based in Europe and the UK and the remaining 13 are based in Australia.
"Our training camp in Portugal in October was the first time we had been together as a group.
"From the first minute we got together in Portugal the players believed in their ability and the philosophy of the team and how we wanted to play.
"Not only have we qualified for Turkey but we have also shown by our football that we have played that Australia is a very good footballing nation."
Despite their success so far Okon said the Young Socceroos were intent on winning the Asian championship.
"We will enjoy the victory and world cup qualification and then we will focus on the semi-final where we will face a very tough opponent in Iraq," said Okon.
"We will be doing everything possible to go on and try and win the tournament."
Gameiro's first goal came from a penalty after Adam Taggart was fouled in the box.
Midway through the first half Jordan had a great chance to equalise when Belal Qwaider found space inside the box, but goal keeper Paul Izzo blocked the shot with his legs.
Young Socceroos captain Curtis Good had a great chance in the 40th minute when unmarked at the far post on the end Terry Antonis' corner but his header went marginally wide.
Taggart then seemed to have doubled the lead in the 52nd minute when he broke free from his defender and tapped in but he was judged offside.
A cross from Antonis on the right set up the second goal as Gameiro expertly placed his shot inside the far post.
The next 30 minutes were a tense affair with Jordan counterattacking at every opportunity and putting plenty of pressure on the Young Socceroos defence. However the young Australians managed to maintain composure and hold the Jordanians at bay.
Substitute Mustafa Amini set up Gameiro's final goal when he played a through ball to allow him to again go one-on-one with goalkeeper Bani Ateyah before finding the back of the net.
In the other quarter-finals, Uzbekistan defeated Syria 3-0 on penalties after the scores were locked at 2-2 after extra time, the Korea Republic easily dispatched Iran 4-1 and Iraq narrowly defeated Japan 2-1.