Football Federation Australia (FFA), the Victorian Government and the Greater Shepparton City Council today announced that the City of Greater Shepparton will host qualifying matches for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-19 Championship.
The Group J fixtures will see the Young Socceroos (Australia) face off against DPR Korea, Hong Kong and the Northern Mariana Islands at the John McEwen Reserve in Shepparton from 4 November to 8 November 2017.
FFA CEO David Gallop said he was delighted that Australia could once again host an AFC competition.
“It was not that long ago that we hosted the AFC Asian Cup and events such as this are a fantastic way to showcase our best young footballers to a local audience and demonstrate our commitment to supporting the AFC by hosting youth competitions,” said Gallop.
“This group of Young Socceroos are on track to become future Caltex Socceroos through the experience they gain from competing in competitions such as this, and hopefully at the AFC U-19 Championship and FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“We would like to thank the Victorian Government and the Greater Shepparton City Council for their valuable support in hosting this event, and to the AFC for entrusting it to us,” concluded Gallop.
The Victorian Minister for Sport John Eren said the Andrews Labor Government is proud to support the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers and secure another world class football event for regional Victoria.
“Victoria is the sporting and major events capital of the nation, and we want to keep it that way.”
“Events like these showcase the best of our regions – attracting more visitors, creating jobs, keeping local businesses busy and inspiring our next generation of Socceroos and Matildas.”
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Dinny Adem said: “This is a chance to showcase our fantastic new state-of-the-art football facilities to the world as well as an opportunity to enhance our reputation of hosting major international events.
“With approximately 3,000 spectators anticipated for the qualifying matches and over $1 million in economic stimulation, this event will see intrastate, interstate and international visitors spend time and money in our region, helping local business, creating more local jobs and keeping our economy strong.
“Hosting events like this supports the Greater Shepparton Football Strategy and adds significantly to the region’s reputation of being the sporting capital of regional Australia. This is an event for the community and I encourage all football lovers to get along to the watch some of the best young talent in the World in our own backyard in November.” said Cr Adem.
Young Socceroos Head Coach Ufuk Talay is also looking forward to competing in a qualification tournament on home soil.
“It’s not often that we get to play in an AFC competition in our own back yard,” he said.
“This will be a great opportunity for us to have the home ground advantage and secure passage to the next round.
“We hope the Shepparton locals come out in droves to support us and the tournament,” concluded Talay.
The Ten (10) group winners and five (5) best second-placed teams from the AFC U-19 Championship qualifying stage will advance to the AFC U-19 Championship 2018 along with the host country, Indonesia.
The Young Socceroos are currently at a training camp in Perth as part of their preparations for the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers.