Petar Franjic Colombia-bound with Qantas Young Socceroos

Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen today announced his 21-player squad that will represent Australia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 which will be played from 29 July to 20 August.

Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen today announced his 21-player squad that will represent Australia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 which will be played from 29 July to 20 August.

Sixteen members of current squad were part of the Qantas Young Socceroos squad that were runner-s up to DPR Korea at the AFC U-19 Championships last year, whilst a further five of those members, Tommy Oar, Kofi Danning, Ben Kantarovski, Rhyan Grant and Sam Gallagher, were also part of the Australian squad that competed at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009.

Fifteen players have been drawn from the ranks of the Hyundai A-League, with four from overseas clubs and two players, former Sunderland striker Matthew Fletcher and former Sheffield United goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, currently uncontracted.

After a long and exhaustive selection process, Versleijen believes that the squad he has selected will be ready to perform when the tournament begins at the end of the month.

“I am very happy with the final selection and it is good to have the majority of the squad back together that did so well at the AFC Championships last year,” said Versleijen

“It is also good to see that since last October the majority of the players have progressed to the starting line-ups of their respective Hyundai A-League or overseas based clubs.

“It is very exciting that the tournament is so close and we will use our training camp in Denver, where we will play two friendly matches against quality opposition, to finalise our preparations,” concluded Versleijen.

Football Federation Australia National Technical Director, Han Berger, was also confident that the squad selected will be able to perform well at the tournament.

“The FIFA U-20 World Cup is an important tournament for the development of professional footballers which sees the world-s best players in this age group compete at the highest level,” said Berger

“With this in mind, and though we are very optimistic about our prospects, it is important for us all to have realistic expectations for the team as a result.

“In putting together this squad we have had to make some concessions to secure the services of a number of overseas based players through negotiation with their respective clubs, but we believe that these concessions will not have a significant impact on the squad-s preparation for the tournament.

“Through the selection process, we were disappointed to learn that two players, Brent McGrath and Steven Lustica, declined our invitation for selection, as they both made themselves unavailable.

“I am sure that the players who have been selected will seize the opportunity to do themselves and Australia proud on the world stage,” concluded Berger.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will hold a farewell function in Sydney at the end of the week before travelling to the USA on Saturday for a pre-tournament camp in Denver, Colorado where they will play friendly matches against fellow World Cup finalists the Korea Republic (20 July) and England (22 July).

The Qantas Young Socceroos will then move to their base camp in the Colombian city of Manizales, situated 2,180m above sea-level, where they will be based the first phase of the tournament.

The Qantas Young Socceroos will play their first match of the tournament against Ecuador on Sunday 31 July, and then face Costa Rica on Wednesday 3 August before their final group match against Spain on Saturday 6 August.

The top two teams from each of the groups and the four third placed teams with the highest number of points will then progress to the round of 16 (9 & 10 August). The Quarter-Finals will be played on 13 & 14 August, Semi-Finals on 17 August with the Final and 3rd/4th place play-off on Saturday 20 August.

The Qantas Young Socceroos qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup having made the final of the AFC U19 Youth Championships in Zibo, China last year.

The Qantas Young Socceroos matches and the Semi-Finals and Final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 will be broadcast live on SBS TV.