The samba drums may have been pounding but it was the Young Socceroos that danced to the rhythm in defeating Brazil 1-0 in the opening game of the SBS Youth Challenge Series. An enthusiastic crowd of 10,000 turned out at Fremantle Oval on the evening of 5 December 1992 to witness Australia take on the world’s greatest footballing nation.
Brazil entered the fixture as favourites, however, they would play second fiddle to a stylish Young Socceroos outfit lead by man-of-the-match Tony Carbone. In fact, the Australian line-up had a very strong local flavour with Carbone, Vince Matassa, Marc Wingell and Vas Kalogeracos all playing major roles in the success.
“It was a disciplined performance and we stuck rigidly to our game plan,” said Young Socceroos coach Les Scheinflug following the first of the four-game friendly series. “We kept them under pressure in the first half and our defence coped magnificently when the Brazilians tried to get back into the game.”
“This kind of result would have been unthinkable a few years ago. We would have been so much in awe of teams like Brazil that they would virtually have started two-up. But our young players have shown in recent years around the world that we can now hold our heads high in international competition.”
The Young Socceroos were given an early scare when Wingell’s ill-directed defensive header threatened to give Brazil the lead. Play was quickly spirited to the opposite end where Kalogeracos was thwarted by goalkeeper Dida, who would go on to make 91 senior international appearances for the Seleção.
Dida spread himself again on 17 minutes to frustrate Kalogeracos for a second time. Australia were by this stage in control of the game and pressing to break through. Jim Tsekinis was unable to capitalise on a trio of opportunities while Craig Moore headed over the crossbar from an Ante Moric free-kick.
Scheinflug’s decision to inject Richard Alagich into the action for the second half came with immediate effect. Urged to get forward to expose a tiring Brazilian defence, the South Australian teenager got himself on the end of a strong build-up to net from 5-metres after less than 30 seconds on the park.
Brazil dug deep in an effort to get back on level terms only to be held at bay time and time again by defensive quartet of Carbone, Moore, Wingell and Kevin Muscat. Substitute Savio did manage to wriggle through but his attempted shot flashed across the face of Matassa’s goal.
While both teams showed great skill, it was the Young Socceroos that carved out the better openings. Moric’s fierce free-kick from distance in the 70th minute was taken at the second attempt by Dida. And the game was close to an end when substitute Nick Radecki stretched Brazil’s defence but his shot was blocked.
1992 SBS Youth Challenge Series
Australia 1 (Richard Alagich 46)
Australia (squad): Vince Matassa, Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore, Tony Carbone, Marc Wingell, Sean Cranney, Peter Tsekenis, Vas Kalogeracos, Jim Tsekinis, Ante Moric, Goran Lozanovski, Frank Juric, Fabio Macolino, Paul Dee, Vas Trpcevski, Ante Juric, Richard Alagich, Nick Radecki
Brazil (squad): Dida, Andre, Wagner, Argel, Juarez, Rodrigo, Pereira, Tomy, Cal Baiano, Gian, Didi, Fabio, Savio, Hermes, Yan, Fabinho
Officials: David Mortimer, Marilyn Learmont, Eddie Lennie, Andy Gorton
The SBS Youth Challenge Series came in the middle of a busy twelve-months for the Young Socceroos. The previous March the Under-20s undertook a four-week tour of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium during which they played nine-games against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Royal Antwerp and Ajax Amsterdam.
In September Australia placed fourth at the Venezuelan International Tournament. Four wins from their group outings secured a semi-final showdown with Brazil, who triumphed on penalties, after which the Young Socceroos succumbed to Chile in the minor place play-off. Three post-tournament games awaited in Uruguay and Chile.
Those experiences, coupled with the SBS Youth Challenge Series, proved invaluable when Australia hosted the 1993 World Youth Championship the following March. The Young Socceroos booked their spot in the knock-out stage with defeats of Colombia and Russia before going down to Cameroon in their final group game.
Carbone made history in the quarter-finals by scoring the world’s first extra-time golden goal to steal a 2-1 win over Uruguay (view highlights of the game). The Young Socceroos met Brazil in the round of four with the South American’s progressing 2-0. Australia had to settle for fourth overall after bowing to England 2-1 in the minor place play-off.