Young Socceroos out to impress in Turkey
Coach Paul Okon has vowed the Young Socceroos will impress with their footballing skills as they attempt to improve Australia's recent record at the FIFA under-20 World Cup.
With the chance to display their wares on a world stage Okon says motivation is not an issue but teamwork is the key as his young charges attempt to become the first Australian side to go beyond the opening group phase of the tournament since 2003.
The Young Socceroos face a huge test in their opening match against Colombia at Trabzon in Turkey on Saturday night (early Sunday AEST) and it doesn't get much easier with matches against El Salvador and hosts Turkey to follow.
The top two teams in the six groups plus four of the best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.
"They (the players) are all super hungry," said Okon, a member of the 1991 team that famously made the semi-finals.
"On the world stage, they are aware of the importance in playing for their country among the best players in their age group."
Making a good start is crucial at such tournaments, and Australia are up against a Colombia team considered by some to rival Spain as title favourites.
Sparked by young Genoa star Juan Fernando Quintero, Colombia won this year's South American youth championship to qualify.
"We've watched a few of their games and Quintero's definitely a key player, but they have some very good players aside from him," said Okon.
"I'm not really interested in the expectations of everybody else, though. We're going to play our own style."
The Australians qualified through last year's semi-final placing at the U-19 Asian Championship and make their 15th appearance at youth football's showpiece, the most of any nation competing this year along with Spain.
While some players like defender Curtis Good, striker Corey Gameiro and midfielder Jackson Irvine could harbour long shot hopes of coming into the reckoning for Socceroos coach Holger Osieck's Brazil World Cup squad next year, Okon said such thoughts would stay firmly in the background.