AUSTRALIA: U-20 review – Turkey is just the beginning


There has been much discussion recently in Australia regarding the Style v Performance debate. What is more important at youth level? To play beautiful and technical football or grind out results? What makes football great is that this debate will never be resolved; the only thing that can be determined is which philosophy to adopt and then implement the necessary structures and strategies to achieve success.

Daniel De Silva - Young Socceroos v Junior All Whites

Australia’s football revolution is slowly but surely gathering pace. We are seeing more technical and possession based football from our youth set ups and teams. This was witnessed in the group stage of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey, where the match against Colombia highlighted our ability to play football in a technical and tactical manner.

In some passages Australia looked really good, comfortable on the ball, good first touch, passing options and movement to create space. Connor Chapman was effective going forward pushing in to the oppositions half with the ball, Daniel De Silva played exceptionally well considering he would still have another U20 World Cup to play in. Credit must also be given to the coaching staff and head coach Paul Okon as the team was structured and tactically set up to take advantage of their opponent, this is illustrated with Australia scoring first in each of its three matches.

The drawbacks are obviously the disappoint of not winning any of the matches even though Australia led in all three. Captain Curtis Good had a mixed tournament not being able to produce his recent form which saw him play in the English League Cup final and the inability to breakdown El-Salvador after they took the lead.

It has been suggested that the omission of Mustafa Amini was a mistake in light of the inability to breakdown opponents; however the team had plenty of time and preparation before the tournament to negate the absence of Amini. Had Australia hung onto its leads that decision would have been seen as a masterstroke.

Where to now; these players alongside other promising youngsters need to be given opportunities and tournaments to develop and gain on the job training. Iraq who have qualified for the semi-finals of this tournament where a majority of the U20’s squad played against Australia in Sydney only three weeks ago in a World Cup Qualifier have shown that we need to give more opportunities to our youth. For this squad they must be A-League or first-team regulars from this upcoming season.

Australia hosts the Asian Cup in 2015 six months after the World Cup in Brazil and if we keep waiting and waiting, these players will not have the experience necessary to win tournaments. Yes results may not matter so much now, but one day they will and when that day comes our team needs to have the necessary skills and experience to beat their opponent.


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