Olyroos: Young Jets help seal qualification


Our Australia U/23’s side qualified for the 2020 AFC U/23 Championships after a tight draw with South Korea on Tuesday night.

Three Jets – Ivan Vujica, Johnny Koutroumbis, and Joey Champness – have been in Cambodia for the series of qualifiers plus two friendlies.

The results have been largely positive ones for Australia, with the two friendlies yielding defeat and a draw before picking up seven points in three competitive fixtures.

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The Aussies qualified as one of the best-placed runners-up, finishing behind South Korea in the group due to a poorer goal difference.

We’ve taken a look at how our boys have performed in South-East Asia, and their chances of potentially retaining a spot in Graham Arnold’s squad moving forward.

Joey Champness

With a brace under his belt in the opening qualifier against Cambodia, Joey Champness will be pleased with his contribution under Graham Arnold this past fortnight.

He started in all but two of Australia’s five matches in Cambodia – the Chinese Taipei and South Korea matches – and has been an impressive performer throughout.

Given he didn’t see minutes in Tuesday night’s draw with South Korea, expect the attacker to be fit and firing come Saturday in Wellington.

Joey Champness Australia

Ivan Vujica

The left-back has proven something of a favourite of Graham Arnold’s so far in Cambodia, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the wins over Cambodia and Chinese Taipei.

In fact, he started in four of the young side’s five matches in the past fortnight and has given a good account of himself in each.

He was the only survivor in a mass of changes between the Cambodia and Chinese Taipei matches and proved his worth in the latter, with two assists and a clean sheet.

As he also missed out on a start in the final group game against South Korea, Ivan will be fit and looking to force his way into Ernie Merrick’s plans this weekend.

Ivan Vujica Australia

Johnny Koutroumbis

Played as a right-back last night against Chinese Taipei, Johnny Koutroumbis saw game time in two of Australia’s five fixtures at the tournament and the prior friendlies so far.

He was a beneficiary of the sweeping changes made by Graham Arnold for the second competitive fixture, but wasn’t able to get a look in for the final group stage game against South Korea.

On the plane to Wellington to link up with the Newcastle squad for this Saturday’s crucial clash with Wellington, Koutroumbis will be keen to kick on.

Johnny Koutroumbis Australia