The Gary van Egmond era of the Young Socceroos reached another milestone on Saturday; with the announcement of a 23-player squad that will contest the coming AFF U18 Championships in Vietnam.
Recently a part of a 30-player training camp at the Australian Institute of Canberra, the 23 players selected by van Egmond will meet Cambodia on August 7 to begin their campaign before following with games every second day against Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The Singapore clash promises to be an intriguing contest for observers of Australian football, with the Southeast Asian city-state counting former Melbourne City youth doyen Joe Palatsides as its Technical Director.
Should Australia progress, the tournament’s semi-finals will be held in Binh Duong on August 17 and the final in Thong Nhat on August 19.
Of the 23-players set to jet off to Vietnam all but four are currently within the Academy structures of A-League sides; the squad highlighted by exciting prospects such as Perth Glory’s Kristian Popovic, Adelaide United’s Louis D’Arrigo, Western Sydney Wanderers’ Fabian Monge, Central Coast Mariners’ Dylan Ruiz Diaz and Melbourne City’s Gianluca Iannucci.
The Wanderers – who blooded a number of young talents such as Tass Mourdoukoutas and Tate Russell during the 2018/19 A-League season – lead the way with four representatives in the squad, whilst City, Sydney FC and Adelaide United will all send three players.
Newcastle Jets and Glory send two representatives to the squad and Brisbane Roar and the Mariners one. Melbourne Victory is the only existing Australian A-League side without a representative in the squad.
Burnley FC goalkeeper Kai Calderbank-Park – who had received interest from the Welsh Football Federation – is the only internationally-based representative of the squad; the youngster set to link up with the side after missing the Canberra training camp thanks to pre-season preparations with the Premier League side.
Two NPL NSW representatives are in the squad in Thomas Aquilina (Sutherland Sharks) and Harry McCarthy (Manly United) and one sole member of the side in former Brisbane Roar youth Lleyon Brooks is uncontracted.
“We enjoyed a really good week of training at the AIS and now our focus shifts to our matches in Vietnam commencing next Wednesday,” van Egmond said upon his squad’s announcement.
“Playing fixtures against Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore over the space of nine days will provide this group with exposure to the demands of international football and help us to prepare for our 2020 AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers to be held in Chinese Taipei in November.
“We expect to perform strongly at the upcoming AFF U-18 Championship however also see the competition as a great development opportunity for this group of players, many of whom are at the start of their professional careers.”
The coming AFF U18 Championships represents the first step in the journey of this Young Socceroos crop towards the 2021 U20 World Cup.
Formal qualifying for that tournament will begin this November when the side travels to Chinese Taipei for qualification games against Group H opponents Chinese Taipei, Macau and Laos for AFC U19 Championship qualifying.
Topping that group – or finishing as one of the four best runners up – will ensure progression the 2020 AFC U19 Championship, which will, in turn, serve as qualification for the 2021 World Cup.
Young Socceroos 23-Player Squad | 2019 AFF U-18 Championship | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
|Noah JAMES (Gk)||Newcastle Jets FC, Australia|
|Thomas AQUILINA||Sutherlands Sharks FC (NSW NPL), Australia|
|Alec MILLS||Melbourne City FC, Australia|
|Kristian POPOVIC||Perth Glory FC, Australia|
|Ryan GOODHEW||Newcastle Jets FC, Australia|
|Louis D’ARRIGO||Adelaide United FC, Australia|
|Jarrod CARLUCCIO||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia|
|Fabian MONGE||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia|
|Harry MCCARTHY||Manly United FC (NSW NPL), Australia|
|Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ||Central Coast Mariners FC, Australia|
|Lochlan CONSTABLE||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia|
|Jackson LEE (Gk)||Perth Glory FC, Australia|
|Kai TREWIN||Brisbane Roar FC, Australia|
|Jake HOLLMAN||Sydney FC, Australia|
|Noah PAGDEN||Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia|
|Bradley CHICK||Melbourne City FC, Australia|
|Marco TILIO||Sydney FC, Australia|
|Kai CALDERBANK-PARK (Gk)||Burnley FC, England|
|Gianluca IANNUCCI||Melbourne City FC, Australia|
|Lachlan BROOK||Adelaide United FC, Australia|
|Thomas FAY||Sydney FC, Australia|
|Jai KING||Adelaide United FC, Australia|
HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: Melbourne City | Aleksandar Jason