Subway Joeys secure automatic qualification to next year’s AFC U17 Asian Cup™ with win over China

The Subway Joeys have secured a 3-1 win over China to clinch top spot of Group G and with it, automatic qualification to next year’s AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023™.

Nestory Irankunda once again proved decisive for Brad Maloney’s side as he scored a brace and registered an assist for Miguel Di Pizio’s emphatic sealer in Shepparton on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors negotiated the majority of the second-half with 10 players when Cui Taixu’s stray boot caught the face of Irankunda on 50 minutes.

Needing just a point to guarantee top spot, due to boasting a superior goal difference to China, Australia settled the quickest of the two sides and they would open the scoring inside seven minutes thanks to Irankunda.

The speedster dribbled past three defenders before being fouled inside the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Irankunda confidently dispatched the ensuing spot-kick and performed his trademark backflip as he ran off in celebration.

Maloney’s side maintained the pressure in the minutes after taking the lead but their wastefulness in front of goal proved costly.

Max Hately was unable to capitalise on a defensive error, shooting wide his one-on-one attempt, and then squandered a shot from point-blank range.

Peter Antoniou’s accurate low cross found the striker but his attempt was spectacularly saved by goalkeeper Xie Gongbo.

In the 23rd minute, a second penalty was awarded for the hosts this time for a blatant handball, arising from a seemingly innocuous situation.

But the Subway Joeys failed to take advantage with Hately slipping at the critical moment and seeing his penalty land wide of the target.

And almost instantly China made the Green and Gold pay after Wang Yudong got on the end of a corner to equalise with a simple tap in.

On the stroke of half-time, Antoniou’s near-post effort almost squeezed in but was parried away in the final action of the first 45 minutes.

Before both sides could really settle following the restart, China was reduced to 10 players when Taixu was adjudged to have made dangerous contact with Irankunda.

From that point on it was the Aussies with the ascendancy and they finally found the breakthrough via a lovely bit of composure from the Adelaide United winger.

The 16-year-old brought a loose ball down before steering his clinical, left-footed finish across the goalkeeper on 65 minutes.

He would then turn provider five minutes later when his square pass spotted an unmarked Di Pizio, and the midfielder unleashed a brilliant strike from distance to put the game to bed.

China thought they had grabbed a goal back off a set-piece but the assistant referee immediately raised his flag for offside as Australia made it three victories from three in front of 1,117 spectators in attendance.


Subway Joeys 3 (Irankunda 7′ (p) 65′, Di Pizio 70′)
China 1 (Yudong 25′) 

Date: Sunday, 9 October 2022 
Venue: Shepparton Sport City Precinct 
Kick-Off: 3.00pm AEDT 
Broadcast: Live & Free on the My Football YouTube Channel
Match Attendance: 1,117 (Tournament total: 2,768)

Player of the Match: 17. Nestory IRANKUNDA  

Australia Lineup: 1. Anthony PAVLESIC, 2. Peter ANTONIOU, 3. Sotiri PHILLIS, 4. Andriano LEBIB, 8. Corey SUTHERLAND, 10. Miguel DI PIZIO, 14. Andre PARKES (21. Fabian TALLADIRA 61’), 17. Nestory IRANKUNDA (16. Jaylan PEARMAN 81′), 9. Max HATELY (19. Mitchell GLASSON 30’), 20. Campbell DOVISON 

Substitutes not used: 5. Xavier SMITH, 6. Ryan KALMS, 7. Tiago QUINTAL, 11. Ayman GULASI, 12. Michael VONJA, 13. Jacob MCLACHLAN, 15. Zachary DE JESUS, 18. Gus HOEFSLOOT, 22. Lucas HERRINGTON, 23. Ben DUNBAR 

Yellow Card: 16. Jaylan PEARMAN 84’

Red Card: Nil

Group G Standings | AFC U17 Asian Cup Qualifiers 

PositionNationGoal DifferencePoints
1. Australia+359
2.China PR+186
4.Northern Mariana Islands-380