For any young player with talent, playing for Australia-s national youth teams, the Qantas Young Socceroos (Under 20-s) and Qantas Joeys (Under 17-s) should be a major target. Playing for these teams is where the majority of Australia-s current Qantas Socceroos first displayed their enormous talent and gave them a taste of playing on the world stage through the FIFA World Championships of their respective age groups.
Current Team Profile (2011)
The Qantas Joeys have qualified for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup after a six year absence from the competition. A 3-2 extra-time win over UAE in the quarter-final of the AFC U-16 Championship ensured that the Qantas Joey gets a chance to repeat their 1999 performance in which they finish runners-up in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Our most successful team on the world stage came courtesy of our 1999 Qantas Joeys team that made the final of the FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand, only to go down to Brazil in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.
Australia has appeared at 10 FIFA U-16/17 World Championships and has a record that many countries would dearly love to have. Only once (1997) has Australia failed to make the finals.
From the very first match we played at the inaugural tournament in China in 1985, where we beat world football superpower Argentina 1-0, we have continually defied the odds to post impressive results. But like the Qantas Young Socceroos, we have generally struggled in the knockout phases of the tournaments, which is perhaps a symptom of the lack of meaningful competition within the Oceania region, where close matches were a rarity.
The 1985 tournament not only saw Australia beat Argentina in its first game, but back that up with wins over Congo and West Germany, who eventually finished runners-up. They went into their quarter final as favourites, but could not find a way past the stubborn Guinean defence and eventually bowed out on penalties, which was a major disappointment.
The next tournament again saw Australia upset the applecart, with a final group game victory against powerhouse Brazil that sent them through to the next round and Brazil to the bottom of the group. Alas again however, in the quarter finals Australia bowed out to eventual runners-up Nigeria
The 1989 edition proved to be one of our most unsuccessful teams in this age group, finishing fourth in its group. But ironically it paved the way for a number of players to progress to one of our most successful U-20 teams in 1991.
The next three editions of the tournament again saw Australia advance past the first round, finishing first in its group in 1991 and 2nd in 1993 and 1995. But on each occasion they once again failed to get past the quarter finals, two of those to eventual runners-up.
After the disappointment of not qualifying for the 1997 tournament, Australia put a great deal of effort into making sure a good performance was had in 1999, to be held in New Zealand, its closest neighbour and fiercest rival.
After winning the Intercontinental play-off against Bahrain to qualify for the tournament, Australia had a month long tour in South America as preparation and as a result went in very confident of performing very well.
What followed was arguably our greatest performance on the world stage, by reaching the final.
Losing our first group game to Brazil wasn-t the ideal start, but wins against Germany, one of the pre-tournament favourites, and Mail, secured a quarter final berth against Qatar. This is where the preparation came through, with a close 1-0 win and a semi final clash with USA.
The semi was a close match with Australia leading 2-0 before the US pulled it level and take it to penalties. We held our nerve to win 7-6 in the shootout and set up a rematch with Brazil in the final.
Brazil was expected to win easily, but the final was ours for the taking and we again were faced with a penalty shoot-out. Brazil triumphed 8-7 in the shoot-out, but Australia-s performance won them many admirers.
Many of these players were very quickly snapped by overseas clubs, although quite a number have returned since.
2001 saw Australia again get past the group phase after a stunning 4-0 win in its final game against Croatia. However it ran into a white-hot Nigerian side in the quarter finals and bowed out, with Nigeria eventually finishing as runners-up.
However the past two tournaments have been rather forgetable, with exits after the group stage and just one win from the six matches played. On both occasions we were placed in extremely tough groups, where the eventual tournament winners came from.
Australia will feature in the 2011 edition after a six year absence from the competition.
FIFA U-17 World Championships - Overall Record
11 appearances - Played 43 - Won 16 - Drawn 7 - Lost 20
1985 (China) - 1st in group (beat eventual runners-up West Germany) - lost quarter final against Guinea on penalties 1987 (Canada) - 1st in group - lost quarter final against Nigeria (eventual runners-up) 1989 (Scotland) - 4th in group - Did not progress 1991 (Italy) - 1st in group - lost quarter final against Argentina 1993 (Japan) - 2nd in group (Nigeria eventual winners) - lost quarter final against Ghana (eventual runners-up) 1995 (Ecuador) - 2nd in group - lost quarter final against Brazil (eventual runners-up) 1997 (Egypt) - Did not qualify for finals. 1999 (New Zealand) - 1st in group - won quarter final - won semi final - lost final to Brazil on penalties 2001 (Trinidad & Tobago) - 2nd in group - lost quarter final against Nigeria (eventual runners-up) 2003 (Finland) - 4th in group (Argentina eventual winners of the tournament) - Did not progress 2005 (Peru) - 3rd in group (Mexico eventual winners of the tournament)- Did not progress 2007 (Korea) - Did not qualify for finals. 2009 (Nigeria) - Did not qualify for finals. 2011 (Mexico) - 3rd in group - lost quarter final against Uzbekistan
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