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Late goals enable Young Socceroos to qualify for AFC semi-finals

Australia's U19s have managed to qualify for the 2011/12 U20 World Cup by getting through to the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Championship in Zibo, China.

Last night, the Young Socceroos fired two extra-time goals to down United Arab Emirates 4-2 in the quarter-final to book their spot in the final four where they will take on Saudi Arabia.

Kerem Bulut opened the scoring in just the 6th minute for the Aussies before UAE star Ahmed Khalil equalised form the penalty spot 17 minutes later.

Australia again took the lead, three minutes after the break through Mustafa Amini before Khalil netted his second six minutes from time to make it 20-2.

But the Young Socceroos rallied and hit the front for a third time when Adelaide United star Mathew Leckie scored in the second minute of extra-time before Matthew Fletcher made it 4-2 in the 104th minute.

UAE had a few moments of hope when Dylan McGowan was sent off for a second yellow card with five minutes remaining but Jan Versleijen's men held on, delighting the coach.

"It was a tremendous performance by all the players this evening," he said.

"Every time the UAE challenged us we were able to then step up to the challenge.

"It was definitely a hard fought win and the players should be very satisfied by the result tonight as well as qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia next July.

"Yes, we achieved our goal of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but we are not satisfied. We play Saudi Arabia in the semi finals on Thursday and want to win this game to progress to the final on Sunday.

"We will be missing Mathew Leckie, Dylan McGowan and Ben Kantarovski due to suspensions for Thursday's match, but this will give other players an opportunity and again allow us to see what depth this squad has to offer.

"For the moment the players should be very proud of their performance as we look forward to the semi finals."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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