Izzo to jet off for AFC U-19 Championship

Adelaide United FC goalkeeper Paul Izzo has been selected in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad for the upcoming AFC U-19 Championship.

Adelaide United FC goalkeeper Paul Izzo has been selected in the Qantas Young Socceroos (Australian U-20) squad for the upcoming AFC U-19 Championship to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 1-17 November 2012.

The 17 year old was one of 23 players named by Head Coach Paul Okon, the squad comprising of 13 players from Hyundai A-League clubs with the other ten based overseas.

Izzo recently returned from a short tour of Portugal with the Australian Under 20 squad, hence while delighted to have been chosen for the AFC U-19 Championship, it did not come as a major surprise.

Having been an integral member of the Qantas Joeys squad that reached the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico last year, Izzo knows well what it means to represent his country. He is also aware of how crucial this tournament is, and it is something he is looking forward to being part of.

“Every Australian team you get picked in is important but knowing how many good players have come through each squad, it-s a privilege to be in this position,” Izzo said.

“I just want to play my role as much as I can so I hopefully get to experience something like what I was able to experience in Mexico.”

“After our last tournament in Portugal, I felt very comfortable with the boys in the squad and I-m really keen to go.”

Having worked with this group of players intensely for the past five months, Okon is optimistic of an extremely competitive showing.

“There is a good mix of local and overseas-based players, and there were plenty of tough decisions that had to be made when settling on the final group,” Okon said.

“Our preparation for this tournament has been great with plenty of match practice. In particular, to be able to use the majority of these players at the AFC U-22 qualifiers in Indonesia in July gave us good competitive matches under tournament conditions which will serve us well once we get to the UAE.

“Whilst we know it will be a difficult challenge, I am confident that we have a strong-enough squad to progress from the group stage to the quarter-finals which will then come down to that one important game for us to perform in to qualify for the World Cup.”

Izzo will assemble with the rest of the squad in the UAE this weekend, meaning Adelaide United Youth Team keeper John Hall will continue to be the backup keeper to Eugene Galekovic for the Reds in the Hyundai A-League until Izzo returns.

The Qantas Young Socceroos have been drawn in Group D of the AFC U-19 Championship and will play their opening match against Qatar on Sunday 4 November (kick-off 3:00pm local, 10:00pm AEDT ) followed by Syria Tuesday 6 November (kick-off 7:00pm local, 2:00am AEDT) and Saudi Arabia in their final group match on Thursday 8 November (kick-off 5:00pm local, 12:00am AEDT).

The top two teams from each group of the AFC U-19 Championship 2012 will progress to the knockout stage (quarter-finals) and the four winners of the quarter-finals will then play in the semi-finals with the winners advancing to the final. The semi-finalists will also automatically qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup which will be held in Turkey in June/July 2013.

Qantas Young Socceroos Squad for AFC U-19 Championship UAE 2012 Terry ANTONIS (Sydney FC, Australia), Mustafa AMINI (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Joshua BRILLANTE (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Corey BROWN (Brisbane Roar, Australia), Reece CAIRA (Western Sydney Wanderers, Australia), Connor CHAPMAN (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Travis COOPER (VVV Venlo, The Netherlands), Jack DUNCAN (gk) (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Ryan EDWARDS (Reading FC, England), Corey GAMEIRO (FC Eindhoven, Netherlands), Ben GARUCCIO (Melbourne Heart, Australia), Jason GERIA (Brisbane Roar, Australia), Curtis GOOD (Newcastle United, England), Jackson IRVINE (Celtic FC, Scotland), Paul IZZO (gk) (Adelaide United, Australia), Liam JACOB (gk) (Oldham Athletic FC, England), Tom KING (Bristol City FC, England), Jamie MACLAREN (Blackburn Rovers, England), Hayden MORTON (Central Coast Mariners, Australia), Mitchell OXBORROW (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Adam TAGGART (Newcastle Jets, Australia), David VRANKOVIC (Melbourne Heart, Australia), Ryan WILLIAMS (Fulham FC, England)