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Young Socceroos poised to pounce in Portugal

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Roar Guru
24th May, 2023
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With Football Australia finally starting to invest money into the underage national sides, an interesting young Socceroo’s squad has been chosen to take part in a four-team round robin tournament in Portugal.

Australia will take on European heavyweights at this age level in Portugal, England and the fast-rising Norway in the beautiful city of Lisbon in four weeks.

The young Socceroos will begin with a match against the old enemy of England (11 June) followed by Norway (13 June) at the Cidade do Futebol complex and the last match against tournament hosts Portugal (9 June) at Sports Complex Real Sport Clube.

Trevor Morgan’s 20-man squad has several players based in Europe as well as the sons of some famous fathers, who will make their debut in the green and gold.

Immediately sticking out in this squad is Paul Okon Jr.

Junior is the son of one of Australia’s greatest ever players and plays his club football with arguably the best underage side in Europe – Benfica.

Capable of playing in defence or midfield, his wand of a left foot will finally be seen in Australian colours – although the player is still eligible to represent other nations.

Another player with options in terms of national sides is Matteo Mazzone.


The Italy-born striker has played already for the country of his birth and also qualifies for Germany, but his form with Wolfsburg in the past 18 months has seen the Australian FA reach out.

Former Melbourne City junior Christian Naveen is another attacker who has been enjoying life in Germany.

Naveen has been a regular contributor for his 1860 Munich side this season and a call up for the talented winger has been well overdue.

Jaden Gaskin has been in Portugal since 2020 with Boavista, after being spotted playing for Sydney Olympic.

Like the a for mentioned Mazzone and Naveen he is capable of playing as a striker or a winger.

Completing the European based selections is the son of former Adelaide United cult hero Michael Valkanis, Dimitri.


South Australia-born Dimitri has so far resisted the overtures of Greece to make his debut for the country of his birth – his playing style is eerily similar to his fathers.

Another South Australian born prodigy Luka Jovanovic, had been expected to represent Serbia, but the Serbian FA’s delay in contacting the family – has seen Australia momentarily pounce for the in-demand striker.

Emin Durakovic is a name that has long been discussed in Australian coaching circles, the talented Melbourne city midfielder has not yet debuted for the first team due to injuries and concussions.

If the surname sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the son of former Socceroo and South Melbourne great, Mehmet.

The highest profile absence from this age group, is the son of former Socceroos stalwart Josip Skoko, Noa – who edges closer to representing Croatia, after playing for their under age national sides.

Johnny Yull would’ve likely been a selection had it not been for stress fractures in his back, while Nestor Irakunda is given a rest – after a very physically demanding season in the A League.

With Australia constantly languishing behind other countries in Asia, let alone Europe – when it comes to matches and training camps for the underage side.


It is fantastic to finally see the Australian FA finally trying to play catch up with the rest of the world, especially in relation to chasing players with dual nationalities.


Alexander BADOLATO Midfielder Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Max CAPUTO Attacker Melbourne City FC
Frans DELI Midfielder Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Emin DURAKOVIC Midfielder Melbourne City FC
Sebastian ESPOSITO Defender Melbourne City FC
Jaden GASKING Midfielder Boavista Futebol Clube
Steven HALL Goalkeeper Adelaide United FC
Joshua INSERRA Defender Melbourne Victory FC
Luka JOVANOVIC Attacker Adelaide United FC
Franco LINO Defender Melbourne Victory FC
Matteo MAZZONE Attacker VFL Wolfsburg
Max MIDDLEBY Defender Central Coast Mariners FC
Christian NAVEEN Attacker TSV 1860 Munich
Paul OKON-ENGSTLER midfielder S.L. Benfica
Alexander ROBINSON Goalkeeper Macarthur Bulls FC
Zane SCHREIBER Midfielder Sydney FC
Harrison SHILLINGTON Defender Melbourne City FC
Dimitri VALKANIS defender Aek Athens FC
Rhys YOULLEY Midfielder Macarthur Bulls FC
Marcus YOUNIS Midfielder Western Sydney Wanderers FC