Birighitti’s mixed emotions after U-20 World Cup

The Qantas Young Socceroos may have made an early exit from the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Columbia, but Adelaide United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says he is definitely better off for the experience.

The Qantas Young Socceroos may have made an early exit from the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Columbia, but Adelaide United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says he is definitely better off for the experience.

Birighitti returned to Adelaide after the Qantas Young Socceroos were bundled out in the tournament-s Group Stage. A draw and two losses in their three group matches condemned Australia to the bottom of Group C, although the task of progressing to the Round of 16 was never going to be an easy one in a group comprising of Ecuador, Costa Rica and European heavyweights Spain.

The Qantas Young Socceroos started well enough securing a point in their opening match against Ecuador, but this was followed by a narrow 3-2 loss to the Costa Ricans which left them needing all three points against Spain. Australia went into the match against the skilful Europeans with the intent to attack from the outset, however it backfired spectacularly as Birighitti was forced to pick the ball out of his net four times within the opening 18 minutes. Game and tournament over.

“They scored in the first minute of the game and little errors cost us, and if you-re at that level playing against good opposition on the world stage, you-re going to get punished,” Birighitti recalls of the eventual 5-1 score line.

“It was just one of those games. At the end of the day we just got outplayed and they had six or seven players that are from teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid.”

“It was disappointing, you don-t want to get knocked out of the group stage. The ideal scenario was to get out of the group stage, make the Round of 16 and from there it-s anyone-s game, but as I said, we just got outplayed and little mistakes in our game cost us.”

Although admittedly disappointed with the results, Birighitti remains relatively upbeat in reflection. As he aforementioned, Birighitti was on the world stage playing against quality opposition, which he says has improved him considerably as a player.

“It did an enormous amount. Just playing against world class players that are playing for big clubs in Europe and around the world, it was a good indication to see where I-m at,” Birighitti said.

Indeed, arguably more significantly, the Perth born keeper was given the responsibility of captaining the side in the absence of the suspended Ben Kantarovski for the last group game against Spain, having also led the Qantas Young Socceroos in a pre-tournament warm up match against Korea Republic.

“Captaining your country at a World Cup - it-s a dream come true and it wasn-t the result that we wanted (against Spain), but it-s a real honour representing your country and I do that with an enormous amount of pride,” Birighitti said.

“When I put on that shirt it-s an unbelievable feeling and hopefully it can continue in the future.”

Having trained right through since the end of the last Hyundai A-League season to prepare himself for the World Cup, Birighitti could be excused for wanting to kick back at home and put his feet up. But instead he is already thinking about resuming training with the Reds and says there is no danger of any burn out getting the better of him.

“I-ll have three or four days and then get back into it straight away. I feel good, my body feels fine and I-m just looking forward to getting back into training with United again,” Birighitti said.

“As a goalkeeper I don-t think you get burnt out too much.”

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