Mariners awesome foursome set for Colombian quest

A quartet of Central Coast Mariners youngsters have today been selected in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad bound for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

A quartet of Central Coast Mariners youngsters have today been selected in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad bound for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

Following months of preparation, Mustafa Amini, Bernie Ibini-Isei, Sam Gallagher and Trent Sainsbury were confirmed in Jan Versleijen-s 21 man touring party early this afternoon.

Pitted against Costa Rica, Ecuador and Spain in the group stage, the young Yellow and Navy stars will have their work cut out for them to advance from one of the toughest pools of the tournament.

Nevertheless, flying attacker Ibini-Isei said both he and the team is confident heading into the tournament.

“We have a tough group but I-d prefer it that way, that-s what a World Cup-s about,” Ibini-Isei said.

“We-ve already done some video analysis and preparation for Ecuador because they are our first opponent.”

Ibini-Isei-s selection in the Young Socceroos squad marks a rapid rise for the former Blacktown City gun, with the striker having won the golden boot award for the 2010/11 edition of the National Youth League.

Having scored 12 goals in that competition, Ibini-Isei went on to net on his Hyundai A-League debut for the Mariners against Wellington Phoenix last year before giving the Glasgow Celtic defence a torrid time during the Mariners international friendly against the Bhoys on Saturday 2 July.

In stellar form for the Qantas Young Socceroos against the Mariners in last Thursday-s 1-all draw at Bluetongue Stadium (the attacking ace rattled the woodwork twice from long range), Ibini-Isei said he-s delighted with his call up.

“This is definitely a great feeling. I-m very happy with where I-m at at the moment, I can-t wait.”

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, including Sam Gallagher, were also part of the Australian squad that competed at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009.

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

The side 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.

SBS Television will broadcast all of the Qantas Young Socceroos matches from the FIFA U-20 World Cup live, as well as the Semi-Finals and Final of the tournament.

Former Mariners player Marc Warren, now with sister club Sheffield United in the UK, was also selected in the squad.

Budding Central Coast custodian Mathew Ryan – who looked a shoe-in for the squad prior to sustaining an unfortunate knee injury earlier this year – will watch his Australian teammates from home as he continues his rehabilitation for the Mariners 2011/12 Hyundai A-League campaign.