Young Socceroos draw 1-1 with Colombia
Sixteen-year-old Daniel De Silva stamped his claim as a future star of Australian football with a goal in a 1-1 draw with Colombia in their Group C opener at the U20 World Championship in Turkey.
Paul Okon's faith in starting the Perth Glory midfielder was repaid in full with the youngest player in the tournament putting in an inspirational performance.
"We know Daniel's qualities and what he can bring to the team. He's got a bit of freedom to express himself, and we know he can create," Okon said after Saturday's match at Trabzon.
"We've never looked at birth dates, and what club you play for, and Daniel stepped up."
Highly-fancied Colombia looked to impose in the opening exchanges, as talisman Juan Quintero took advantage of the space given to him in Australia's half.
In the 12th minute, Jason Geria denied what would have been a certain goal by Cristian Palomeque as Paul Izzo approached from the Australian goal.
With Jackson Irvine and Josh Brillante providing cover, the Australian midfield tightened up after the first fifteen and De Silva was given licence to create.
And straight after the interval De Silva found the net after a fantastic angled pass from Andrew Hoole with the Colombian defence retreating.
De Silva got in behind Helibelton Palacios after a incisive run off the ball, although Cristian Bonilla's effort in goal left much to be desired.
The Australian defence was under siege for the next 15 minutes as Colombian coach Carlos Restrepo sent in substitutes, with chances falling to Palomeque, Renteria and striker Juan Cordoba.
Jhon Cordoba restored parity in the 79th minute after an sharp pass inside the box from Quintero.
Okon believes his side has made a positive start towards progression out of the group stage with their next opponents being El Salvador on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
"We knew what we had to do and we planned for it. Each of the players executed it to the best of their ability," he said.
"A win would have been nice, but you never want to lose your first game, and allow another team to get to three points.
"We need to put in a similar performance (against El Salvador), and if we can do that we're confident we can win."