Teams of the Decade | Men's 1981–1989

Football Federation Australia has announced its Teams of the Decade, to celebrate 50 years of FIFA membership. Here is the Men's Team of the Decade 1981-1989.

There were a number of formations common in this era: 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 5-4-1 and 5-3-2.

However, the one that we felt provided the most stability and consistency is 4-4-2.

This is also the best formation when considering the players available and subsequently selected in this 1980s ‘team of the decade-.

Defensively, the combination of Davidson, Henderson, Yankos and Jennings provide a combination capable of thwarting most attacking patterns but also possess the leadership and resilience traits necessary to ‘compete- at any level.

The central combination in the defence and midfield also provides flexibility to play in a number of combinations - with either two picking up (Henderson and Barnes OR Henderson and Yankos OR Barnes and Yankos) and one sweeping either in front (Barnes or Henderson) or from behind (Yankos or Henderson).

In attack, both Henderson and Yankos have a tendency to move forward into attack and both possess powerful striking options on goal from distance.

Also in attack, both Alan Davidson and Graham Jennings possess speed and skill which allows them to attack from deep and complement the creative skills possessed and opportunities created by the midfield combination of Watson, Crino and Odzakov.

All of these three midfielders possess a high degree of skill and vision capable of combining to initiate creative and innovative attacking play - and this is further supplemented by their mobility to interchange and occupy any of the three ‘attacking- midfield positions.

Finally the pairing of Krncevic and Kosmina both, apart from the obvious power and strength in the air, also provide mobility, guile and a knack of finding the back of the net from any field position in the furthest attacking third. And either, with their strength in the air and ability to hold up the ball, can play the ‘lone-ranger- up front if required.

Frank Arok (Coach) Born: 20 January 1932, Kanizsa, Serbia Clubs coached: St George, Marconi, South Melbourne, Morwell Falcons Born in Serbia of Hungarian descent, Frank Arok's era in charge of the Socceroos saw the national team re-emerge on the international stage after a fallow period following the 1974 World Cup finals. A professional journalist in his hometown of Novi Sad, Arok first arrived in Australia in 1969 to coach St George, and ultimately spent 14 years with the Saints in three different spells. In 1972 he took St George to Japan where they won a prestigious four-team tournament - the first-ever success by an Australian club side abroad. But while Arok was a hugely influential club coach, winning the 1983 championship with the Saints and also taking charge at Marconi, South Melbourne and Morwell Falcons, it was his six years (1983-1989) at the helm of the national team which defined his career. While failing in two attempts to qualify for the World Cup (1985 & 1989), his ability to inspire and motivate a collection of strong-willed, part-time players saw the Socceroos record some memorable results - most notably a win over Yugoslavia at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, two draws against England, and a unforgettable win in Sydney over then-world champions, Argentina. In 89 games as coach, he recorded 41 wins and just 26 defeats, but it was the way he lifted the profile and changed the character of the team which remains his enduring legacy.

John Kosmina (Captain) Position: Forward Born: 17 August 1956, Adelaide Clubs: Polonia, West Adelaide, Arsenal (England), Hakoah/Sydney City, Sydney Olympic, APIA Leichhardt, Sutherland The son of Polish/Belarus immigrants, Kosmina was born and raised in Adelaide, where he began his career with Polonia (now Croydon Kings) before graduating to the NSL with West Adelaide. The scorer of the NSL's first-ever goal in 1977, 'Kossie' was fearless, rugged, and determined, ice-cool in front of goal with an uncanny sense of timing and positioning. After a season with West Adelaide, he was signed by Arsenal, but after just one year at Highbury returned home just as he was on the verge of a breakthrough - a decision he stills regrets. In 1981 Kosmina moved to Sydney City, where he won two consecutive championships - a period which coincided with his best years with the national team. Skipper of the Socceroos during the 1985 World Cup campaign, Kosmina retired from international football after the Seoul Olympics, eventually playing out his career with stints at Sydney Olympic, APIA Leichhardt and Sutherland. He went on to have a successful coaching career.

Terry Greedy Position: Goalkeeper Born:27 August 1955, Lismore Clubs: Bankstown, Melita Eagles, St George, APIA Leichhardt Raised in the northern NSW town of Lismore, it took a while before football became a serious pursuit for this naturally-gifted goalkeeper, who received little genuine coaching during his junior days at Eastwood United (later Lismore Workers). He arrived in Sydney in 1978 to play state league for Bankstown, and then Parramatta Eagles, before being lured to the NSL by St George where he won a championship in 1983. When Saints coach Frank Arok was seconded to the Socceroos the same year, he took his goalkeeper with him, but a year later Greedy almost retired to pursue a second career in teaching. It was while waiting for a response from the education department that he had second thoughts, and with Arok's encouragement he became first-choice for an eventful 1985 World Cup campaign which only ended in the final play-off match against arguably Scotland's best-ever team. Safe, brave, good in the air, and wonderful with his positioning, he retired in 1988 with APIA Leichhardt. He made 36 appearances for the Socceroos.

Alan Davidson Position: Defender Born: 1 June 1960, Melbourne Clubs: Altona City, South Melbourne Hellas, Nottingham Forst (England), Melbourne Croatia, Pahang (Malaysia), Collingwood Warriors Massively-talented utility player, good with both feet, strong in the tackle, exceptional with his passing, 'Davo' could have played in any number of positions but ultimately made his name as an overlapping right fullback. Good enough to be involved in three World Cup campaigns, the first (1981) as the youngest player in Rudi Gutendorf's squad. Davidson enjoyed a brief and promising stint with Nottingham Forest, where he played under the legendary Brian Clough, before returning home to Melbourne to feature in the 1985 World Cup campaign. He played the bulk of his career with South Melbourne and Melbourne Croatia, and also had a successful stint in Malaysia with Pahang.

Tony Henderson Position: Defender Born: 14 January 1954, Newcastle, England Clubs: Canberra City, Marconi Born and raised in the north-east of England - his affections are split between Sunderland and Newcastle United - 'Hendo' cut his teeth in the youth ranks of Blackpool before four frustrating seasons at Rotherham United prompted a move overseas. First stop was South Africa, where he played in Durban and East London, before he was enticed to Australia by the newly-formed NSL, where he joined Canberra City, coached by Johnny Warren. Henderson played in the NSL's first-ever game (against West Adelaide), and after two seasons in the national capital he shifted to Sydney to begin his long love affair with Marconi. During a decade at Bossley Park he played 243 games and won two championships, while he also captained the Socceroos for five matches in 1980. Comfortable on the ball, good with both feet, strong in the air, and clever with his passing, he was a classic modern defender.

Charlie Yankos Position: Defender Born: 29 May 1961, Melbourne Clubs: Heidelberg, West Adelaide, APIA Leichhardt, PAOK Salonika (Greece), Blacktown City, Wollongong Wolves The man who will forever be remembered for two thundering free kicks - one against Israel, the other against Argentina - was a central defender for the time. Unbeatable in the air, ferocious in the tackle, and dominant in one-on-one situations, Yankos was also the perfect leader, which is why Frank Arok made him captain for the 1989 World Cup campaign. Born and raised in Melbourne, he came through the youth program of Fitzroy (Heidelberg) before launching his NSL career with the 'Bergers' during the golden era at Olympic Village. He went on to have spells with several other NSL clubs, includes APIA Leichhardt where he won a championship in 1987, and also had a stint in Greece with PAOK Salonika. Utterly dependable, and a true leader.

Graham Jennings Position: Defender Born: 18 January 1960, Newcastle Clubs: Adamstown Rosebud, Sydney Olympic, Sydney Croatia, APIA Leichhardt, Newcastle Breakers The man known as 'Flash' was renowned for his overlapping runs, and his enormous stamina. Born and bred in Newcastle, surprisingly his big break didn't come with his hometown club, KB United, but with Sydney Olympic, who gave him his opportunity in 1979. Jennings began his NSL career as a winger, but when Manfred Schaefer joined Olympic as coach he converted him to a fullback - a move which defined his career. He made his Socceroos debut under Frank Arok against England in 1983, and became a mainstay at left back over the 1985 and 1989 World Cup campaigns - despite his fear of flying. 'Flash' had a 20 year playing career, which included stints at NSL clubs Sydney Croatia, APIA Leichhardt and Newcastle Breakers. Quick and adventurous, and with a soft first touch, he was the epitome of a modern fullback.

Joe Watson Position: Midfielder Born: 1 January 1952, Dundee, Scotland Clubs: Dundee United (Scotland), Forfar Athletic (Scotland), Hakoah Sydney, APIA Leichhardt The late Joe 'Jinky' Watson arrived in Australia from his native Scotland in the pre-NSL era to play for Hakoah. During his 14 seasons with Hakoah (later renamed Sydney City), he won four NSL championships. He ultimately ended his top flight career with APIA Leichhardt at the age of 36. A mazy dribbler with clever short-passing game, he thrived in an era of brutal physicality despite his slight frame. Stronger in possession than he had a right to be, 'Jinky' was the perfect linkman during the 1985 World Cup campaign, when he enjoyed his career highlight - returning to Glasgow to play against Scotland. Tragically, Watson passed away on 30 September 2000 at the age of 48.

Murray Barnes Position: Defender Born: 16 January 1954, Sydney Clubs: Hakoah Sydney A true one-club man, Murray Barnes had plenty of offers to leave Hakoah/Sydney City, but could never imagine himself playing against the club. After making his first team debut as a 17 year old, he went on to make 225 appearances for the Slickers, winning four NSL championships along the way. He also spent a year overseas as an 18 year old trying to earn a professional contract with Leeds United. Raised on the north shore of Sydney, Barnes was an inspirational leader. He captained both club and country, and was versatile enough to play in midfield or as a support striker. Strong, good in the air, and tough in the tackle, he managed a goal every four games over his career - an exceptional strike rate for a midfielder. He was skipper for the Socceroos during the ill-fated 1981 World Cup campaign. Sadly he passed away on 31 December 2011.

Oscar Crino Position: Midfielder Born: 9 August 1962, Buenos Aires, Argentina Clubs: Melbourne Juventus, Tung Sing (Hong Kong), South Melbourne Hellas, Anorthosis (Cyprus), Footscray JUST, Preston Makedonia Oscar Crino had a season in the youth ranks of San Lorenzo in Argentina before emigrating with his family to Melbourne as a 10-year-old. There was never any question of his talent - his close ball skills were mouth-watering - but it was not until he spent time at the AIS that he matured enough physically to manage the rigours of the Australian game. He came through the ranks of Footscray JUST and Brunswick Juventus, and earned his first Socceroos cap in 1981 under Les Scheinflug who was rebuilding the Socceroos after a dismal 1982 World Cup qualifying campaign. Following a short stint in Hong Kong, he came of age when he joined South Melbourne in 1983, and quickly became a favourite of Frank Arok for the 1985 World Cup campaign. Crino's international career ended after the Socceroos bowed out of the 1989 World Cup campaign against Israel, but he played a further two seasons in the NSL with Preston before retiring.

Zarko Odzakov Position: Midfielder Born: 11 November 1955, Skopje, Macedonia Clubs: Vardar Skopje (Yugoslavia), Preston Makedonia, Sydney Croatia, Blacktown City Born and raised in Macedonia, where he came through the ranks of Vardar Skopje, Odzakov arrived in Australia as a 27-year-old to join Preston and quickly caught the eye with his silky skills, deft range of passing, and sublime vision. A true playmaker in the South American mould - more finesse than fitness - he shifted to Sydney Croatia in 1985 and was immediately capped by Frank Arok, going on to become a key figure in the World Cup campaign. Odzakov also represented Australia in futsal, and had two seasons with Blacktown City before retiring. Included by former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic in his Team of the Century, this Balkan genius also has a trophy named after him, which is contested in matches between NSW state league sides Sydney United and Bankstown City.

Eddie Krncevic Position: Forward Born: 14 August 1960, Geelong Clubs: Melbourne Croatia, Marconi, Dinamo Zagreb (Yugoslavia), Cercle Brugge (Belgium), Duisberg (Belgium), Anderlecht (Belgium), Mulhouse (France), Liege (Belgium), Aalst (Belgium), Charleroi (Belgium), Morwell Falcons The first Australian to genuinely succeed in continental Europe, where he spent 15 years and won championships in Belgium and the former Yugoslavia. A tall angular striker, with great strength in holding the ball, Krncevic's career highlights were split between winning the Belgian title with Anderlecht in 1987, and the Belgian Golden Boot the following season. Born in Geelong and raised in Melbourne, Krncevic launched his career in the Victorian state league with Melbourne Knights (then called Essendon Croatia), before moving to the NSL with Marconi, where he won a championship (1979) before moving overseas to join Dinamo Zagreb. Appearances for the Socceroos were sporadic during his time in Europe (notably he missed the 1985 World Cup campaign), but he did play in both the 1981 and 1989 World Cup campaigns. Krncevic returned home as a 35 year old to wind down his playing career with a season in the NSL with Morwell Falcons.