Adelaide United FC goalkeeper Mark Birighitti cannot wait for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 to start after being included in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad for the tournament.
Birighitti was named in the final 21-player squad by Qantas Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen, with former Adelaide United attacking midfielder Mathew Leckie, who is now based at German club Borussia Monchengladbach, also selected.
After a long and exhaustive selection process, Versleijen believes that the squad he has selected will be ready to perform when the tournament begins at the end of the month.
“I am very happy with the final selection and it is good to have the majority of the squad back together that did so well at the AFC Championships last year,” Versleijen said.
Delighted to be in the squad, Birighitti has been a mainstay between the posts for the majority of the Qantas Young Socceroos’ qualifying campaign and lead up fixtures to the World Cup.
Birighitti and the rest of the Qantas Young Socceroos squad will depart on Saturday for Denver in the United States, where they will spend a week preparing in high altitude before their World Cup campaign begins against Ecuador on July 31 in the Columbian city of Manizales.
Despite being no stranger to international competition and representing his country overseas at U-17 and U-20 level, Birighitti admits there is an added air of excitement when it is getting ready to play in a World Cup.
“From our last qualification campaign in China there were six or seven months to go until the World Cup and every time we had camps, we were thinking the World Cup is a long way away, and now it’s only around the corner,” Birighitti said.
“It’s every young kid’s dream to represent their country, especially to do that at a World Cup is a dream come true, and of course there are going to be some nerves going into the first game against Ecuador.”
Adelaide United’s squad may be in the middle of pre season with close to five months gone since the end of the last Hyundai A-League season, but there is no doubt Birighitti is ready to be at the peak of his powers for the start of the World Cup.
The 20 year old West Australian played in the Qantas Young Socceroos’ European tour back in May, while he also spent time training with the Qantas Olyroos recently and enjoyed a 90 minute hit out against the Central Coast Mariners.
“Since the season finished I had one week off and then I was back into it again,” Birighitti said of his training schedule leading up to now.
“The only thing lacking is game time, you can train as much as you want but there’s nothing that compares to playing games, (but) we had a game recently against Central Coast and credit to the boys, they did well, and when we get to Denver we’ve got games against Korea Republic and England, so hopefully I’ll get two good games under my belt leading up to the World Cup and then hopefully go into the tournament doing well.”
“I feel confident, my body is in good shape and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Qantas Young Socceroos have been drawn in Group C alongside Ecuador, Spain and Costa Rica, the task of making it past the Group Stage seen as a difficult one for Australia but one that Birighitti believes is not beyond them.
“We’ve just got to go out there and not be afraid of anyone, show that true Aussie spirit and give it all we’ve got, whether that’s playing attractive or ugly football, whatever it takes to get three points,” Birighitti said.
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. All of the Qantas Young Socceroos’ matches plus the Semi-Finals and Final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 will be broadcast live on SBS TV.
For more information regarding the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, visit www.fifa.com/colombia2011.