Aussies down brave Vanuatu to make it to Peru
Australia booked passage to the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 with a 1-0 win over Vanuatu on Friday, 15 April in the final match of the Oceania Qualifying Tournament in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Opening their campaign a 4-0 win over Vanuatu thanks to an impressive hat-trick from David Williams, the Joeys followed up with a 5-0 romp of Tahiti in a performance coach Ange Postecoglou called "disappointing on the whole."
In their last group match, with a place in the semi-finals already assured, Postecoglou fielded his reserves. And even with the subs in, they still managed to hustle up a 26-0 scoreline over monumentally outgunned Tonga. But to the islanders' credit, it was not the most lopsided scoreline in Oceania U-17 history. That dubious distinction falls to American Samoa, who were once beaten 30-0 by the Aussies. Striker Robbie Kruse scored six goals, all in the first half, while Ben Vidaic and Daniel Visevic scored five goals apiece.
The semi-final with the Solomon Islands proved a tougher test, but in the end the Australians performed well in a tighter-than-expected 2-0 win. Kruse scored again and Joel Allwright added another (both in the second half) to see the Joeys into the final.
And although they had beaten Vanuatu 4-0 at the group stage, it was not the one-sided end game many had predicted. There were 82 minutes on the clock when star striker David Williams scored the winner. Williams, who also finished as the tournament's top scorer with nine goals, headed home after a superb cross from Matt Mullen.
Australia have qualified for the past four instalments of the FIFA U-17 World Championship and have only ever missed one of ten finals. Along with New Zealand, Australia are the only Oceania side to have participated in a U-17 finals.
The FIFA U-17 World Championship will run from 16 September to 2 October in four venues in Peru.