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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 21, 2013

Young Socceroos get Turkish security OK

Team manager Simon Roberts gave an assurance on Friday that anti-government protests in Turkey would not affect the Young Socceroos, ahead of their Under-20 World Cup opener against Colombia.

Violent clashes in Ankara, Antalya and Istanbul spread to Mersin on Thursday night, coinciding with the tournament's opening ceremony.

"We had a briefing with FIFA, who provided us with a team security liaison officer, and we're comfortable with the arrangements provided by FIFA and the local organising committee (LOC)," he said at the team's hotel outside Trabzon on Friday.

"FFA's (Football Federation Australia) been in contact with the Australian embassy in Ankara, and we had the Australian ambassador here on Wednesday. We're comfortable at the moment and we'll continue to monitor the situation.

"We have to put our trust in the LOC and FIFA. Security arrangements are very tight, in regards to accreditation and where you can go.

"At this point in time, we're monitoring the players' movements, which is normal. But in Trabzon, it's not so much as it would be in other cities."

Ahead of the tournament opener between Cuba and South Korea, FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said there would be no conflict at the Under-20 World Cup despite concerns.

"All intelligence is telling us that there will be no problems in the stadiums, and that is also in line with our assessment from a security point of view."

Coach Paul Okon has vowed the Young Socceroos will impress with their skills as they attempt to improve Australia's recent record at the tournament.

With the chance to display their wares on a world stage, Okon says teamwork is the key as his young charges try to become the first Australian side to go beyond the opening group phase since 2003.

The Young Socceroos face a huge test against Colombia in Trabzon (early Sunday AEST) and it doesn't get much easier with matches against El Salvador and hosts Turkey to follow.

The top two teams in the six groups plus four of the best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.

"They (the players) are all super hungry," said Okon, a member of the 1991 team that famously made the semi-finals.

The Australians qualified through last year's semi-final placing at the Under-19 Asian Championship and make their 15th appearance at youth football's showpiece, the most of any nation competing this year along with Spain.

While some players like defender Curtis Good, striker Corey Gameiro and midfielder Jackson Irvine could harbour long shot hopes of coming into the reckoning for Socceroos coach Holger Osieck's Brazil World Cup squad next year, Okon said such thoughts would stay firmly in the background.

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