Inter Milan's Kevin Zefi included in Ireland U17s squad for Mexico friendlies

Manager Colin O’Brien has named a 20-man squad for the games.

Ireland U17s manager Colin O'Brien.
Ireland U17s manager Colin O'Brien.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

COLIN O’BRIEN HAS named a 20-man squad as the Republic of Ireland U17s prepare for back-to-back friendlies against Mexico in Cork.

And 16-year-old Kevin Zefi, who joined Inter Milan from Shamrock Rovers over the summer, has been included in the squad.

Zefi, born in Dublin to Albanian parents, has previously featured regularly for the Ireland U15s and became the youngest goalscorer in League of Ireland history last year after finding the net for Shamrock Rovers II in a First Division game against Longford Town.

Of the 20 players selected in O’Brien’s squad, 17 are based in Ireland, along with Zefi, Celtic’s Rocca Vata and Caden McLoughlin, who signed his first professional contract with Villareal earlier this summer.

Both games against Mexico will take place at Turner’s Cross, with 600 free tickets made available to spectators. The two sides meet at 7pm on Sunday, before a noon kick-off next Tuesday.

The games will serve as the final preparation ahead of the Uefa U17 European Championship qualifiers in October, where Ireland will play North Macedonia, Poland and Andorra in the first round of qualifiers.

And O’Brien said Mexico should provide a good test ahead of the challenges waiting later this year.

“To get this level of opposition is a real huge plus for us,” O’Brien said.

“Mexico is a real powerhouse at this age group if you research and examine their age groups in the past couple of years they’re a World Cup standard team and that will the standard over the two games we will be playing.

“It’s a very ‘homebased squad’ and it’s the first squad we’re going to see around the Brexit situation but the players are well into their season and we’ve done a lot of homebased assessments and training camps over the last few months and a lot of games watched.

“We’ve 20 players ready to represent the Republic of Ireland U7s against high-level opposition so the players are going to be really tested here, both collectively and individually, and it will give them a good measure to where they’re at.” 

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Republic of Ireland Under-17 squad 

Goalkeepers: Fintan Doherty (Derry City), Conor Walsh (Sligo Rovers)

Defenders: Luke Browne (Shelbourne), Sam Curtis (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Cathal Heffernan (Cork City), Ruadhan Kane (Klub Kildare), Daniel Kelly (Sligo Rovers), Luke O’Brien (St. Patrick’s Athletic)

Midfielders: Justin Ferizaj (Shamrock Rovers), Gavin Hodgins (Shelbourne), Darius Lipsivc (St. Patrick’s Athletic), James McManus (Bohemians), Rocco Vata (Celtic)

Forwards: Trent Kone Doherty (Derry City), Mark O’Mahony (Cork City), Caden McLoughlin (Villareal), Liam Murray (Cork City), Alex Nolan (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Franco Umeh (Cork City), Kevin Zefi (Inter Milan)

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Ciarán Kennedy

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