Hoffman Hat Trick Inspires Australian U/23s

Melbourne Heart FC's Jason Hoffman scored a hat trick as the Australian Under 23’s defeated Yemen 4-0 in the second leg of their London 2012 Olympic Games Asian Qualification matches held last night at Ausgrid Stadium, Newcastle.

Melbourne Heart FC's Jason Hoffman scored a hat trick as the Australian Under 23-s defeated Yemen 4-0 in the second leg of their London 2012 Olympic Games Asian Qualification matches held last night at Ausgrid Stadium, Newcastle.

The result contributing to the Australian Under 23-s winning 7-0 on aggregate over the two-legs and booking them into the third round of the qualification process for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In front of a hometown crowd of 3,009, Novacastrian born and bred striker Jason Hoffman was the star of the show, netting a hat-trick to seal the points and ensure that Australia progressed to the group stage of competition.

The Qantas Under 23-s opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Rocco Visconte swung in an accurate free kick into the box for Hoffman to head in.

As the match progressed, the Australian Under 23-s continued to press forward looking to extend their advantage. Midfielder Marko Jesic came close to scoring his team-s second after a neat piece of build up play down the left side resulted in the ball falling to him, unmarked and inside the box, however his powerful first time shot ricocheted off the post and out of play.

Just after the half hour mark, the Australian Under 23-s doubled their lead when midfielder Aaron Mooy provided a perfect ball from the left side for Hoffman to again rise highest and notch his second goal of the evening.

At half-time, Australian Under 23-s head coach Aurelio Vidmar made two changes, opting to give time to Isaka Cernak and Diogo Ferreira and rests to Marko Jesic and Mitchell Nichols who were both sitting on yellow cards.

The changes did little to disrupt Australia-s attacking intent, however, and with his confidence sky-high Hoffman wasted little time in the second stanza to complete his hat-trick. With Visconte again providing the cross from the right side, Hoffman slid the ball home from six-yards out to make the score 3-0 in the 52nd minute.

The scoring was completed in the 68th minute when Mooy capped an impressive performance by etching his name onto the score-sheet with a powerful finish from close range. Good work down the right side from skillful substitute Cernak opened the space for the Scottish based midfielder who drove an accurate shot into the bottom corner of the goal.

Speaking after the match, Vidmar was pleased his side put together a polished performance in the second leg after a comfortable first leg victory.

“From the beginning the objective was always to get through to the next round of qualifiers, and we achieved that,” said Vidmar.

“It wasn-t an easy game and there was certainly a lot of fatigue out there towards the end of the second half.”

“We took our chances well, and we very easily could have scored a couple more, but we got sloppy at times.”

Loathe to single out any individual Vidmar was full of praise for the way the team combined as part of his overall tactics.

“I-m very happy with everyone. It was a difficult choice with the goal keepers but both Andrew Redmayne in the first leg and Dean Bouzanis tonight did everything asked of them.

“The fullbacks drive forward I thought was exceptional across both legs, and they did a great job setting up the attack. In defence they were able to press in and close down the Yemen attacks.”

“They were well supported by the midfield who were always pushing to create something, and of course our forwards who finished their chances. (Jason) Hoffman-s bagful of goals should give him confidence going forward.”

The success of the tie was aided by everyone in the squad, and Vidmar had special words for those who weren-t selected.

“I just want to acknowledge the efforts of all those players who didn-t get much game time or who weren-t selected for a variety of reasons. To their credit they took the decision well, and all continued to train exceptionally well with a professional attitude. It was very impressive.”

With plenty of football between now and the start of the next stage of qualification, Vidmar is realistic about the challenges facing his squad.

“The boys just need to keep playing regular football, and they will have match rhythm which will make everything easier. Overall I-m very pleased that we have got to the next stage,” concluded Vidmar.

The Australian Under 23-s will discover who their group stage opponents in their bid to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games when the Preliminary round 3 draw takes place at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on 7 July.

The 12 teams will be divided into three groups of four teams each in the third round and play on a home-and-away format from 21 September, 2011, to 14 March, 2012, determining the winners who will represent the continent in the Olympics. Three second-placed teams from the third round will clash in a playoff at a centralised venue from March 25 to 29, 2012, and the winners of this group will meet the representatives of CAF for a berth at the Olympic Games.