Heartbreak in '99 fuelling Australia's FIFA U-17 World Cup mission
Twenty years ago, the Australian U-17 national team finished runners-up at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Joeys, led by Les Scheinflug and featuring the likes of Josh Kennedy and Scott McDonald, were denied an incredible triumph by a penalty shootout loss to Brazil in the final.
In a few weeks, Trevor Morgan's Joeys team will arrive in Brazil with a burning desire to go one better than the squad who fell to the South Americans at the final hurdle two decades ago.
“We all share the common mindset and goal that we can go over there and we can win this World Cup,” Joeys skipper Ryan Teague told socceroos.com.au.
“Twenty years ago there was a team that went to the World Cup and lost in the final and we’re hoping to take that one step further.
“I’ve been with the Joeys ever since the AFF [Championships] in 2015 and there’s been a lot of development in the squad in the last few years.
“There’s so many good players that keep on coming through so it’s an exciting time to be going over to a World Cup.”
Teague’s belief and assuredness mirrors the way he plays on the pitch, which is why coach Morgan has chosen the classy midfielder as the leader of his squad in Brazil.
The Sydneysider began his football journey with Maroubra United, before playing in the NPL with both Sydney University and Sydney Olympic.
It was there that he caught the eye of Sydney FC, joining the club’s academy as a teenager.
Teague has steadily progressed through the ranks at the Sky Blues and got his big break last month as he was promoted to the club’s Hyundai A-League squad for the 2019/20 Season.
“I’m in the first team environment now and I’m learning off players like Luke Brattan, Brandon O’Neill and Milos Ninkovic,” he said.
“It’s surreal to be learning from them, it’s what you dream of as a kid.
“Just getting advice from them every day and just on the little details, you know it’s going to take your game that one step further.
“One of my goals is to make my A-League debut this season. I know I have to wait my time and be patient but I’ll keep working hard on and off the field and hopefully the gaffer [Steve Corica] gives me a run.”
But before turning to club aspirations, Teague is putting all his focus into the Joeys’ quest against the world’s best.
The squad will prepare for the tournament with a crucial 12-day training camp in Santiago, Chile, before heading to Brazil on Saturday, 19 October.
Morgan’s squad will play Ecuador, Hungary and Nigeria in the group stage.
"We have a very diverse group. We’ll do our analysis before the games and we’ll know ways to break them down and how to beat them,” Teague says.
“If we follow our principles and our structure we can go there and beat any team.
“The time in Chile will be crucial, just to get that camaraderie back again and acclimatising to the weather over there and getting a better understanding of each other and how we can play.”