IT’S 21 years since the WA State team, captained by former Socceroo goalkeeper and Football Hall of Fame Legend Robbie Zabica, performed for an audience of approximately 60 million.
The occasion was the first visit to Perth of the Indonesian national team which used a challenge match against WA as a warm-up before taking part in qualifying fixtures for the Asian Games and the Tiger Cup.
Such was the interest back in Indonesia, that authorities requested that the Perth game be televised live back to the Asian country, which has a population of over 260 million.
President Suharto’s daughter contacted the West Australian ruling body at the time, the Soccer Administration of WA, to make arrangements for the TV coverage, which required extra floodlights to be temporarily installed at Dorrien Gardens in order to meet television standards.
It was to be an historic move for WA football as it was the first time a game involving Indonesia had been broadcast live from Australia.
Football Hall of Fame WA Committee member John O’Connell, who was SAWA’s international committee chairman in 1996, told the West Australian newspaper at the time: “Soccer is the top sport in Indonesia and the Indonesians have told us that a huge number will tune in if the game is shown live.
“It will be a rare opportunity for WA players to show off their skills to such a vast audience.”
O’Connell later received a positive feedback from the Indonesians and was told that the TV audience for the match was estimated at around 60 million.
“It’s probably the biggest audience ever to watch an Australian team in action,” said O’Connell.
A strong WA side made the occasion extra memorable by beating Indonesia 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the contest had been deadlocked at 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes.
Ross Greer and Alan Mackenzie were the scorers in normal time, while the penalty shoot-out heroes were Paul McVittie, Scott Miller and Greer.
The WA captain, Robbie Zabica, was another hero, saving two penalties in the shoot-out.
It was Mackenzie’s first game for WA, while Greer was making a comeback to the State team after playing in Hong Kong for six years.
The Indonesian side contained many seasoned internationals and included star goalkeepr Kurnia Sandy, who went on to play for Sampdoria in the Italian League. Sven Goran Eriksson was the Sampa coach at the time. The Indonesians had beaten Sampdoria 2-1 in a friendly in Jakarta a few days before flying out to Perth.
Striker Kurniawan, who went on to become the most capped Indonesian player with 60 caps, was another in the team with European football experience. He had been on the books of FC Lucerne for two seasons.
The close control of the Asians had WA under pressure at times, but Greer gave the home side the perfect counter answer when he fired home a fierce shot from 25m.
The Indonesians equalised when nippy forward Putra lobbed Zabica – but the State side were back in front after 56 minutes when Greer was the architect of a fine goal, flicking a pass to McVittie, who in turn steered the ball into the path of Mackenzie who finished off the move.
Kurniawan grabbed a fortunate equaliser to send to game to the penalty shoot-out, in which Zabica stood tall to thwart the visitors.
The WA team that faced Indonesia was: Robbie Zabica, Craig Moodie, Scott Clissold, Rene de Koning, Scott Miller, Paul McVittie, Steve Bourne, Peter Coci, Alan Mackenzie, Ross Greer, Willie Herd. Subs: Raymond Kastropil, Doug Ithier, Scott Daley, Tommy Maras. Coach: Eric Williams. Referee: Andy Gorton.
***To celebrate the 21st birthday of one of the WA State team’s most notable wins, the Committee of the Football Hall of Fame WA plans to hold a special anniversary event at Dorrien Gardens on December 12 when it’s hoped all the players from the historic victory will attend.