Garuccio, Vrankovic thrilled with selection


Heart’s teenage duo Benjamin Garuccio and David Vrankovic are delighted to have been announced in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad.

Melbourne Heart FC teenage duo Benjamin Garuccio and David Vrankovic are delighted to have been announced in the 23-man Qantas Young Socceroos squad for the U-19 Asian Championships.

Garuccio and Vrankovic and two of thirteen players included in Head Coach Paul Okon-s squad from the ranks of the Hyundai A-League, alongside ten players based with overseas clubs.

The 23-player squad will feature in the AFC under-19 Championship to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 1-17 November.

Vrankovic made his first start for the Red and White on Sunday, slotting in for the suspended Simon Colosimo in central defence against Perth Glory, while Garuccio has just returned from Europe after featuring in two friendly matches in Portugal for Okon’s side.

“It-s a big honour to be named in the squad to go to Dubai; it-s what we-ve been preparing for this whole year so it-s good to be able to get the chance to help us reach the World Cup in Turkey next year,” Garuccio said.

“It-s mind-blowing for me because this time last year I would have only dreamed of playing in this team.

“Obviously there are downsides, and that means leaving the Club for a few weeks, but there-s still a long way to go in the season and opportunities to represent your country in such a big tournament don-t come around every day.”

Okon is happy with the final selection after working with the squad for the past five months.

“We had a thorough process in selecting this squad with everyone having an opportunity to show themselves through training and match situations,” Okon said.

“There is a good mix of local and overseas-based players, and there were plenty of tough decisions that had to be made when settling on the final group.

“Our preparation for this tournament has been great with plenty of match practice. In particular, to be able to use the majority of these players at the AFC U-22 qualifiers in Indonesia in July gave us good competitive matches under tournament conditions which will serve us well once we get to the UAE.

“Whilst we know it will be a difficult challenge, I am confident that we have a strong-enough squad to progress from the group stage to the quarter-finals which will then come down to that one important game for us to perform in to qualify for the World Cup.”

The Qantas Young Socceroos finalise their preparations for the tournament with an international friendly against the Korea Republic on Tuesday in the UAE.

Okon-s side has been drawn in Group D of the AFC U-19 Championship and will play their opening match against Qatar on Sunday 4 November.